Entering the 2021 MLB season, outfielder Michael Conforto was viewed as an integral piece to what the New York Mets were building. He slashed .322/.412/.515 in 2020 and was an All-Star in 2017. At just 27 years old, he was undoubtedly looked at as an ascending player entering his prime.
Unfortunately for Conforto, 2021 wasn’t as kind to him. In fact, it ended up being one of the worst seasons of his career. He slashed .232/.344/.384, which resulted in a lack of serious attention for the outfielder in free agency. Conforto remains unsigned at the moment despite Opening Day being right around the corner.
To make matters even worse for Conforto, this all could have been avoided.
The Mets offered Michael Conforto $100-plus million last spring
According to Yankees and Mets reporter Andy Martino, the Mets actually offered Conforto a lucrative contract extension after his stellar 2020 season. The offer was worth $100-120 million, likely spanning five to six seasons.
At the time, New York was trying to get a discount on a player who could’ve fetched an asking price of $200-plus million this offseason had he replicated his 2020 performance in 2021. Instead, Conforto turning down the extension has played quite favorably for the Mets. They were able to turn around and use that money to land the likes of Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, and Mark Canha.
It’s also worth highlighting that New York extended Conforto a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason. This year’s QO number was set at $18.4 million — a hefty price tag for a player coming off a .729 OPS.
Instead of taking the one-year QO and attempting to play himself into a bigger market in 2023, Conforto rejected it and entered free agency. Now it’s March 24, and Conforto still doesn’t have a new team.
Possible landing spots are evaporating
Considering his strong track record from 2017 to 2020, Conforto is likely worth taking a stab at if you’re an offense-needy team. However, many clubs in search of bats this offseason have already signed guys.
The Philadelphia Phillies — who were a popular mock Conforto landing spot — signed Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. The Colorado Rockies inked Kris Bryant to a seven-year deal. The Boston Red Sox went after prolific shortstop Trevor Story.
The list goes on and on. Most of the teams in need of big-time offensive additions this offseason have already signed guys. Conforto appears somewhat stranded at the moment. Even just taking the qualifying offer from New York would’ve made sense in hindsight.
Michael Conforto should take a one-year deal
Conforto will sign with a new team over the coming days — he’s too good of a player to remain unsigned for too much longer. It’s just a matter of who.
With that said, it’s getting to the point in the offseason at which Conforto should start pursuing a short-term commitment. He clearly didn’t get the massive, multi-year contract offers he was expecting this offseason. The best thing he can do now is take a one-year deal and look to boost his value back up this season.
If he has a good 2022 season, he will likely get another $100-plus million offer in 2023.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.