Michael Conforto Rumors

NL East Notes: Nats, Mets, Conforto, Phils, Utley, Braves

The Nationals have yet to play to expectations and are dealing with several injury and performance issues, as Jonah Keri of Grantland explains (in addition to breaking down several other clubs, particularly the A’s, Rays, and Pirates). In terms of potential deadline moves, the area that Keri highlights as needing improvement is first base. As he explains, Ryan Zimmerman has not performed at the plate and is now in the midst of a DL stint of indeterminate length as he deals with plantar fasciitis. Keri suggests that the Nats could go after a rental such as Adam Lind, reserving longer-term questions for the future. From my perspective, adding a left-handed power bat makes a good deal of sense: such a player could boost the team’s production now while ultimately serving as a bench bat and/or platoon mate for Zimmerman, depending upon how things progress, while also supplying some injury insurance.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Even as the Mets continue to try to practice responsible roster-building, the club risks legitimate criticism if it can’t find a way to improve its chances while the Nationals look vulnerable, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests. There are plenty of possibilities for bold action, of course, but Sherman says not to expect a change of manager. The promotion of young lefty Steven Matz is not the panacea some might think, says Sherman, but could make a difference. (From my perspective, that still seems the single most likely move to inject talent onto the big league roster.) As for trades, Sherman writes that the club may need to get creative, but should be prepared to turn in some of its resources (payroll & prospects) to make something happen.
  • Of course, some have suggested that the Mets really ought to be taking a look at 2014 first-round draft pick Michael Conforto to help boost the team’s sagging offense. But the club is “not considering” that move at this time, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. That’s probably not too surprising, really. Conforto is still only 22 and has less than a full season of professional plate appearances on his resume. He has been raking at Double-A, but has not even seen 100 turns at bat at that level and was producing solid but hardly overwhelming numbers at High-A.
  • If the Phillies are serious about building an organization that can succeed in the long run, then they should open their upper management search up broadly before making a decision, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. President Pat Gillick was never expected to stay at the helm of the organization for very long, and it seems that one key function of his office is to find a more permanent replacement. One name that has come up, of course, is former Orioles, Cubs, and Twins executive Andy MacPhail. Murphy says that MacPhail may or may not be the best person to take over, but the club ought to make that determination through a process that includes “a thorough examination of other top candidates throughout the sport.”
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg says he is aware of Chase Utley‘s vesting clause terms but won’t allow it to dictate his lineups, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The struggling veteran has lost time to Cesar Hernandez recently. Utley will be guaranteed $15MM next year if he reaches 500 plate appearances this season. He’s just one PA shy of the halfway mark, easily putting him on pace. But as things stand — Utley is slashing .179/.257/.275, and his hard contact and line drive rates have plummeted — the organization would be amply justified to curb his playing time.
  • The Braves are not likely to sell off any significant pieces at the deadline, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes in response to a fan question, though they could ship out a few one-year veterans if they fall well out of the picture. Atlanta could still be a limited buyer, Bowman suggests, with the team potentially looking to bolster its bullpen.

Mets Sign Michael Conforto

The Mets have officially announced the signing of first-round pick Michael Conforto (Twitter link). The Scott Boras client had previously been reported to have agreed to terms at a $2.97MM bonus (per MLB.com’s Jim Callis), but reports over the past few weeks indicated that the two sides were hung up on a few non-financial details.

Michael Conforto

All of that is worked out now, and Conforto can get a start on his professional career. An outfielder out of Oregon State, he was widely considered to be one of the best bats in the draft. Conforto ranked as the No. 8 prospect in this draft by ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America while Jonathan Mayo and Callis of MLB.com ranked him 17th.

Conforto batted a whopping .345/.504/.547 with seven homers, 16 doubles and a pair of triples in 59 games for Oregon State in 2014 — his junior season. Law praised Conforto’s power to his pull side, also noting that he works counts well and is able to hit the ball to the opposite field. Law expressed concerns about Conforto’s defense, however, questioning his range and his throwing arm in left field. BA offered a bit of a different take, writing that he improved his previously fringy defense and is now adequate, and their scouting report projected him as a 20-25 homer hitter down the road. MLB.com shared some of the defensive concerns and worried that he might swing and miss too much, however that scouting report also projected him to hit 25-plus homers with regularity at his peak.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Mets Notes: Niese, Conforto, Syndergaard, Collins

The Mets have yet to determine whether they’re buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline, GM Sandy Alderson tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The next 10 to 12 days will be vital in making that assessment, Alderson said, but he made it clear that regardless of the way they go, the team isn’t likely to deal left-hander Jon Niese. Given the fact that the Mets can control Niese, who has a 2.88 ERA in 103 innings, through 2018, that stance isn’t entirely surprising. Niese is guaranteed $16.5MM through the 2016 season, and his contract contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and an $11MM club option for 2018. That would be tremendously difficult to part with, though it would also be highly appealing to other clubs and carry a great deal of trade value.

More from Heyman and other reporters on the Mets…

  • From that same piece, Alderson notes that Daniel Murphy‘s name has come up “periodically” in trade talks. Heyman suggests that Alderson’s statement includes the mention of a Murphy in trade that would net Jonathan Villar and others, which appeared in the recent Astros’ data leak. Heyman adds that Alderson didn’t deny anything that was mentioned in those notes.
  • In a second piece, Heyman reports that the Mets’ deal with top pick Michael Conforto still isn’t quite done. Alderson tells Heyman that the two sides are still working out three or four mostly non-financial clauses. The two sides remain in agreement on a $2.97MM signing bonus.
  • While he was once thought to be on the Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler summer promotion track, top prospect Noah Syndergaard now might not even be called up in 2014 at all, manager Terry Collins told reporters yesterday (including Mike Puma of the New York Post). One club source told Puma that team officials have struggled to get a read on Syndergaard, and some feel he would benefit from a full year at Triple-A. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wrote earlier today that a club official recently told him Syndergaard is “not even on our radar” at this point.
  • Martino also tweets that Alderson recently lamented the team’s run differential (a point he touched on with Heyman as well) but firmly stated that he doesn’t feel Collins is the cause for that issue.
  • The Mets announced the signings of 11 international free agents today, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo runs down the list, noting that Venezuelan shortstops Yoel Romero and Edgardo Fermin received respective bonuses of $300K and $250K. None of the 11 signed by the Mets ranked among the Top 30 lists compiled by MLB.com and Baseball America.


Draft Notes: Rodon, Kolek, Conforto, Megill

After the Reds’ agreement with Alex Blandino yesterday, 25 of this year’s 34 first-round picks have signed or at least agreed to terms on their signing bonus. Here are some of the latest draft-related (non-signing) news items from around the league…

  • As noted by Baseball America earlier this week, the White Sox have $6.58MM that they can spend on top pick Carlos Rodon without losing future draft picks (Twitter link). Chicago’s situation with Rodon is somewhat similar to the one the Mariners faced with Alex Jackson, with whom they agreed to terms earlier this week. Both Rodon and Jackson are advised by Scott Boras, and both teams signed picks 2-10 prior to dealing with their first-rounder. Because picks beyond the 10th round don’t count against a team’s bonus pool (unless a team gives a bonus of more than $100K in rounds 11-40), that basically places a firm limit on what type of bonus they can offer. If anything, Jackson may have had more leverage as a high school player. MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently noted that he fully expects Chicago to sign Rodon, though he added that the Sox haven’t inked a notable Boras draftee since Alex Fernandez back in 1990 (Twitter links).
  • MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the Marlins considered Tyler Kolek the top player in this year’s draft, even over No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Had Miami selected first overall, they’d still have taken Kolek, Frisaro reports. Had Houston taken Kolek, however, Aiken was No. 2 on their board.
  • While the Mets and top pick Michael Conforto are in agreement on a signing bonus in the range of $2.987MM, as reported earlier in the week, there does appear to be a bit of work left to do before the deal becomes official, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It isn’t clear exactly what the holdup is at this time, he adds, stating that it could be an issue of language within the contract. Whatever the issue, his signing bonus doesn’t appear to be a factor anymore.
  • Cardinals third-rounder Trevor Megill has decided to return to college for his senior season rather than sign with St. Louis, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Megill’s draft stock plummeted after he required Tommy John prior to his junior season at Loyola Marymount. MLB.com’s Jen Langosch noted recently that Megill would likely require an over-slot bonus or would return for his senior year.

Mets Agree To Terms With Michael Conforto

The Mets have agreed to sign first-round pick Michael Conforto to a $2.97MM deal, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com (on Twitter).  The Oregon State outfielder was rated as one of the best college bats in the draft by Callis.  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier this week that a deal was on the verge of being completed.

Michael Conforto

The reported value of the deal just about matches the slot for the No. 10 overall pick.  The outfielder out of Oregon State was ranked as the No. 8 prospect in this draft by ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America while Jonathan Mayo and Callis of MLB.com ranked him 17th.

Conforto batted a whopping .345/.504/.547 with seven homers, 16 doubles and a pair of triples in 59 games for Oregon State in 2014 — his junior season. Law praised Conforto’s power to his pull side, also noting that he works counts well and is able to hit the ball to the opposite field. Law expressed real concerns about Conforto’s defense, however, questioning his range and his throwing arm in left field. BA offered a bit of a different take, writing that he improved his previously fringy defense and is now adequate, and their scouting report projected him as a 20-25 homer hitter down the road. MLB.com shared some of the defensive concerns and worried that he might swing and miss too much, however that scouting report also projected him to hit 25-plus homers with regularity at his peak.

The Mets have reportedly signed third-rounder Milton Ramos for roughly $100K over slot, and they went $200K over slot on 13th-rounder Erik Manoah as well, but they didn’t have to go over the suggested value on their first-round pick. The team made up for its over-slot deals with Ramos and Manoah by saving $517K on its picks in the fourth through tenth rounds.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Mets Nearing Deal With Michael Conforto

The Mets are expected to have a deal soon with first-round pick Michael Conforto, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com spoke to a team official who said a deal isn’t absolutely done yet, but there won’t be any snags either (Twitter link).

Conforto, an outfielder out of Oregon State, was considered by many to be the best college bat in this year’s draft. ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America both ranked the 6’2″, 217-pound lefty swinger as the No. 8 prospect in this year’s draft class, while Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked him 17th.

Conforto batted a whopping .345/.504/.547 with seven homers, 16 doubles and a pair of triples in 59 games for Oregon State in 2014 — his junior season. Law praised Conforto’s power to his pull side, also noting that he works counts well and is able to hit the ball to the opposite field. Law expressed real concerns about Conforto’s defense, however, questioning his range and his throwing arm in left field. BA offered a bit of a different take, writing that he improved his previously fringy defense and is now adequate, and their scouting report projected him as a 20-25 homer hitter down the road. MLB.com shared some of the defensive concerns and worried that he might swing and miss too much, however that scouting report also projected him to hit 25-plus homers with regularity at his peak.

The slot value for the No. 10 overall pick, where New York selected Conforto, is $2,970,800, according to Baseball America. The Mets have reportedly signed third-rounder Milton Ramos for about $100K over slot, and they went $200K over slot on 13th-rounder Erik Manoah as well. However, they’re also said to have saved roughly $517K on rounds 4-10 in the draft, so they shouldn’t be hindered in negotiations with Conforto.