MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the Mets aren’t prioritizing an extension for Michael Conforto. However, there are several reasons why they should be.
Heyman tweeted on Saturday that the Mets’ “total focus” is on locking up their star shortstop, Francisco Lindor, to a $300 million contract before Opening Day, which is the deadline that was set by Lindor himself.
Mets talks: Total focus is on Lindor, and there’s hope there with 5 days to go for $300M-plus deal. Conforto was made offer but there’s no traction there. They checked in with Thor agents but tough to pinpoint price off TJ. Better news, he was throwing 97.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 27, 2021
But perhaps Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen are putting their attention towards the wrong player. Their focus should be on the man playing right field: Michael Conforto.
Heyman mentioned that there hasn’t been any traction for a Conforto extension after the Mets gave him an offer, but there are a variety of reasons why New York should ensure he is a Met for years to come over Lindor.
Lindor is obviously the bigger name and he is the face of the franchise alongside Jacob deGrom, but if he hits free agency, it isn’t the end of the world because there are more than enough options to replace him.
If Lindor’s price tag is too steep, Plan B could include Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, or Trevor Story. Plan C could be Marcus Semien, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto this winter and nearly won the AL MVP in 2019.
Any one of those shortstops would be a fine backup plan for Lindor and fans would have no reason to be mad if one of them was their 2022 Opening Day shortstop, especially if that means Conforto—a homegrown star—was extended.
On the other hand, there aren’t a bunch of All-Star right fielders hitting the market next winter. In fact, there is only one: Conforto. That means that there will be more than a few teams bidding for him. This will only increase his price to beyond what the Mets could lock him up for right now.
For perspective, other outfielders scheduled to hit the market include Dexter Fowler, Avisail Garcia, Tommy Pham, and Corey Dickerson.
It is also important to factor in what the Mets’ farm system looks like behind Lindor and Conforto. If Lindor doesn’t return and the Mets only sign a shortstop to a short-term deal, they would have top prospect Ronny Mauricio, who hit .417 this spring, ready to step in.
But if Conforto walks in free agency, the Mets’ outfield options from the minors are headlined by Khalil Lee, who is only known for his speed and currently strikes out too much. Pete Crow-Armstrong doesn’t even have experience playing pro ball yet after his selection as a first-round pick in 2019.
This isn’t to say the Mets shouldn’t try to extend Lindor, because they should. But perhaps they will reconsider their priorities and recognize that Conforto is a cheaper and safer option.
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