New York Mets star outfielder Michael Conforto may miss Opening Day after being diagnosed with a strained oblique on Tuesday.
According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has informed the media that Michael Conforto has a strained oblique. Van Wagenen believes it’s “too early to know” if Conforto will miss opening day.
Michael Conforto's injury is a right oblique strain. "Too early to know" if Opening Day is in question, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 10, 2020
Oblique strains vary in severity. If Conforto’s injury is serious, it could mean surgery, which would cause him to miss the majority of the season. If it’s a mild strain, he could miss a few weeks before rehabbing. That would mean a debut sometime in April.
Whatever the case may be, it’s likely that Conforto won’t be ready for Opening Day. That leaves the Mets in a difficult spot. They seemingly can’t replace Conforto without making the team significantly worse.
Shifting J.D. Davis, Dom Smith, or Brandon Nimmo to right field all come with issues. Davis and Smith are very poor fielders in the outfield, which the Mets can’t afford. The team is already expected to be one of the worst defensive teams in baseball.
Moving Nimmo over means that Jake Marisnick will play every day. The Mets lose a ton of offensive value if that happens.
Luckily for the Mets, there’s a clear option to fix this problem. Yasiel Puig is still a free agent and would likely take a one-year contract. Puig is a neutral defender in right field and he’s a strong bat.
He would fit into right field as a near-equivalent replacement for Conforto. Will the Mets pay to sign Puig when they have lesser replacements on the roster? Almost certainly not. The team is already at a franchise-high payroll and right up against the luxury tax.
Nonetheless, Puig is a perfect solution at the right time for the Mets.