The Mets have been busy spending lots of money and adding to their roster so far this offseason. After having many impact players hit free agency, though, there is still work to be done.
While it initially seemed like New York wasn’t going to prioritize the offense, things have changed. The Mets made a last-second entry in the Carlos Correa sweepstakes. Once he officially signed with the San Francisco Giants, reports surfaced that New York is interested in the likes of Michael Conforto and J.D. Martinez.
Regarding the Mets’ former first-round draft pick, it seems like the possibility of his return evokes two opinions. People either seem to be all for it or completely against it. Earlier this offseason, I talked about how I didn’t think Conforto was a solid Plan B if Brandon Nimmo wasn’t re-signed.
But now that Nimmo is back in the fold, it changes things a little bit. Here are some pros and cons of a potential reunion.
Pros to bringing Michael Conforto back
The Mets and Conforto are obviously familiar with one another. The outfielder spent seven years with the organization. But I’m talking about Scooter’s familiarity with New York as a market and what that entails as a player.
He’s been through the highest of highs, which includes an All-Star selection and hitting home runs in the World Series. Conforto has also dealt with the lows of New York not performing up to expectations. None of this would be a surprise for him because he’s already lived it.
Doesn’t have to be “the man”
Since his first full season in 2016, Conforto was constantly viewed as a crucial part of the offense. He’s spent time at all parts of the lineup, but he’s mostly been slotted into the three- and four-hole.
The Mets’ current offense looks similar to 2022, but it was also one of baseball’s most effective units when wRC+ is the barometer. Conforto wouldn’t at all be slotted into either of those spots in the lineup now. Being a little lower could allow him to focus on playing to his strengths instead of trying to do too much.
Conforto hit free agency last winter but didn’t get scooped up by any team. Combine this with a shoulder injury that needed surgery, and he’s in a quintessential needing-to-rebuild-his-value situation.
The Scott Boras client will turn 30 on March 1st, so he’s likely in the market for a one- or two-year deal. And if he wants a contract for more than one season, it’ll likely include an opt-out after Year 1.
Cons to a Michael Conforto reunion
It’s been a long layoff
Anyone who has played baseball at any level — whether we’re talking about Little League or the big leagues — will tell you it’s a game of rhythm. That’s why many players like getting on the field every day. Not only does it give them another chance to make an impact, but it helps with getting into some kind of sustained groove.
Conforto, as we already established, didn’t play at all in 2022. His most recent time on the field was the definition of average. He slashed .232/.344/.384 with 14 home runs, 55 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 479 plate appearances. This all led to a 106 wRC+ (100 is league average).
So, combine these two things together, and it’ll probably take him a while to get his feet underneath him again. Is that something the Mets can afford given their situation?
Impact of his shoulder injury
Conforto’s All-Star campaign of 2017 was cut short due to a shoulder injury he sustained while swinging a bat. The outfielder dislocated his shoulder and also suffered a posterior capsule tear in the process. It took him a while to get back to the hitter he was before the injury that following season.
If we combine the long layoff with this most recent shoulder injury, it could be a sign for New York to look for other options to bolster the offense.
Is there enough playing time available?
Last, but most certainly not least — is there room for Conforto on the roster? With how the lineup is currently constructed, the Mets are likely looking for a fourth outfielder/platoon-type player or someone who can take some DH at-bats. Conforto being left-handed would make him a potential fit since Mark Canha and Starling Marte are both right-handed hitters.
But Conforto wants a short-term deal to prove his health and rebuild value. So, he’ll likely want to find a place with the promise of consistent playing time. There could be potential for that in Queens, but it’s most definitely not a guarantee like it would be with other teams.
The Mets are a win-now club. In that pursuit of a World Series title, the main acquisitions have to be as close to a sure thing as possible to help move closer to that goal. That’s why I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of Conforto being a Nimmo replacement.
Now that Nimmo is back and people won’t have to play out of position in the outfield, it’s a decent idea. But based on how the Amazins’ roster is constructed, I’d imagine Conforto and his camp want to find a place where he can get consistent at-bats on a more guaranteed basis.
Given his past track record and the current outfield free-agent market, he’ll probably get that somewhere else. As we’ve seen many times, though, we can’t count the Mets out if this reunion is something they really want.