Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Lil Ginge
Michael Conforto turned down a nine-figure contract extension from the New York Mets before the 2021 baseball season according to reporter Andy Martino of SNY. Martino reports that the Mets offered Conforto a contract valued at around $100 million last spring. They were willing to go to about $120 million total, according to Martino’s sources.
Mets offered Michael Conforto a contract in the $100 million range last spring, and would have gone to about $120 MM, per sources.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) March 17, 2022
Martino adds that the Mets are no longer offering Conforto the deal.
Just housekeeping. They’re obv not offering him anything like that now, and probably not anything.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) March 17, 2022
Let’s be honest. Conforto had a terrible year in 2021. In 479 plate appearances, Conforto had a 106 wRC+, good for average at best, combined with terrible defense for a total of 0.8 fWAR on the season. After posting seasons of 27, 28, and 33 home runs each year from 2017 to 2019, Conforto put up only 14 dingers last year.
At least he had a stolen base?
Did Conforto Make a Mistake?
Some argue that it’s hard to evaluate the deal without knowing more about the contract. Maybe from a baseball perspective. But here’s what I know. Had Conforto signed the deal, his children and his grandchildren would never have to worry about paying for college. Ever. Now? Who knows what kind of money Conforto will get going forward.
Some say Conforto’s down year was bad timing. And it was. But bad years happen. They can happen to any baseball player. Which is why turning down any major contract is also taking on a major risk. As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. $120 million in the hand is similarly worth $240 million in the bush. Or gone with the wind.
Conforto is currently 29 years old. He’s hardly a baseball geriatric but soon to be on the wrong side of 30. He probably only has a few elite years of baseball left, if he even has any. This makes signing Conforto to anything more than the bare minimum a major risk for any team right now. You could argue that all he has to do is “return to form” in 2022, but that may be easier than done for the free agent.
In addition, Michael Conforto is represented by the Boras Corporation, the notorious agency that is known for getting unbelievably vast fortunes for their top players.
But Conforto is no longer one of their top players.
Should The Mets Bring Conforto Back?
As for those Mets writers clamoring for a Michael Conforto reunion with the Mets – maybe. At the moment, the Mets have regular position players at all three outfield spots: Brandon Nimmo in left field, Starling Marte in center, and Mark Canha in right field. The new designated hitter slot isn’t exactly empty either, with J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, and Robinson Cano all figuring to see at-bats in this spot.
And yes, the Mets outfield is full of injury risks. We know Nimmo has missed time in the last few years. Canha has also faced some hip injuries in his time as a baseball player. Then there’s Marte. Marte is currently struggling with an oblique injury. It is currently unknown whether or not he will be able to play at the start of the season.
So in theory, Michael Conforto could be brought in as a fourth outfielder and part-time designated hitter. But would he even be happy in such a role? And how much do you pay such a player? Even a one-year twenty-million deal seems steep to me considering we don’t know if Conforto will even get 300 plate appearances.
Some claim that the bottom of the batting order looks much better with Conforto in it if he slots in lower than the clean-up spot. Does it? Conforto would have to have a significant bounce-back season in order to make a meaningful difference above players like Eduardo Escobar, Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha, or James McCann. Sure, it could happen, but it could just as easily not.
The Mets currently boast a payroll of around $252 million for 2022 according to Sportrac. Which is above the luxury tax threshold, adding to the total costs for the club. In addition to the added payroll cost of adding Conforto at whatever price he can command, there’s also the issue of the loss of a draft pick, as Conforto turned down the Mets qualifying offer. This will make it even harder for Conforto to find a new home.
Greed Is Not Always Good
What is clear is that Conforto turned down a lot of money, took on great risk, and probably won’t come out ahead. He could, if he signs a one-year deal, has an all-star comeback, and catapults himself to a new deal worth more to him than the original $120 million the Mets offered him before.
But that’s a lot of “ifs”.
Gordon Gekko, a character in the legendary Oliver Stone film Wall Street once famously said that “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” But Michael Conforto may be about to find out that sometimes that catchphrase is not always quite true, at least when it comes to one’s own bank account.