The super agent reps one of the Mets’ key pending free agents — and a big potential trade target.
Over the weekend, New York Mets acting GM Zack Scott spoke with the media about a number of topics, including a few key players coming back from injuries. One area of interest was contract negotiations with upcoming free agents, specifically 28-year-old outfielder Michael Conforto.
According to Scott, “there’s been no movement on anything contract wise for anyone” on the roster recently.
It’s understandable given the significant turnover and personnel issues the Mets faced near the end of Spring Training that Scott would take his time diving into his new job. But that isn’t going to make his life easier as the 2021 season progresses.
The Mets big move in the offseason was the trade to acquire superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. The team then signed Lindor to a massive extension; negotiating with the new face of the franchise became the priority for the organization.
Then came new allegations against the front office that led to firings, promotions and a PR nightmare. Those issues, coupled with making sure Lindor was locked-up long-term, pushed negotiations with Conforto’s camp to the back burner.
The team never exchanged years or dollars with Conforto’s camp — which happens to be mega agent Scott Boras — during Spring Training.
From 2017-20, Conforto had an OPS+ of 133 (33 percent above league average). He averaged 34 home runs and 95 RBI per 162 games over those four seasons.
The Mets have a few other significant free agents coming this winter, including Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard, but Conforto would figure to be the most prominent bat that needs to get paid. And every indication from the players is that those in the Mets’ clubhouse want Conforto to be part of the team long-term.
The Rookie vs Boras
What complicates any potential negotiations between the Mets and Conforto is the agency that reps the outfielder. Boras is well known for getting every penny possible for his clients, which is why he represents to many of the game’s top stars.
Conforto didn’t start the 2021 season as well as he would like, but he’s rounding into form and looks to be headed back to another strong season. His contact rate and swinging strike rate are at or near the best of his career.
So we’re looking at a rookie GM talking about an important contract with an agent who regularly gets more than expected out of seasoned veterans in the same role.
The Mets first need to make a decision on whether or not Scott is the GM moving forward. He assumed the position after the Lindor deal, meaning this would be the first major move he needs to deal with in the role. And working with (against?) Boras is no easy task.
The Mets have another issue that would directly involve Scott and Boras.
As the Mets have searched for an improvement at third base, one of the names they have been frequently linked to is Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant. The former NL MVP is in the final year of his contract and, when the Cubs appeared to be selling this past winter, there was talk of the Mets making a deal for Bryant.
Here’s the rub: Bryant, like Conforto, is a Boras client.
And Bryant is off to a marvelous start to the 2021 season, ranking among the NL leaders in many offensive categories including home runs and RBI. He would be an obvious upgrade to JD Davis at third base, but a strong offensive campaign would only increase his negotiating position with teams — including the Cubs — looking to sign him this winter.
If Scott were to make a bold move and trade for Bryant (which wouldn’t be cheap given his start to the year), he would now have two incredibly important players on his roster who need new deals and are repped by Boras.
How comfortable is Steve Cohen with Scott working on a deal, much less two, with Boras? Especially of this magnitude?
Those are important questions, because the Mets certainly need to figure out their future with Conforto and could continue to entertain the idea of trading for Bryant as the season progresses.