The chances of the Mets extending shortstop Francisco Lindor before his deadline on Thursday appear slim. In further unwelcome news for the Mets, it also doesn’t look as if they’ll prevent outfielder Michael Conforto from reaching free agency next winter.
While Conforto hasn’t set a season-opening deadline for negotiations, the Boras Corporation client and the Mets never came close to reaching an extension during spring training, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. As a result, “there is a much better chance” that Conforto will test free agency than not after the season, according to Puma.
As things stand, Conforto looks as if he’ll reach the open market as one of the premier hitters available. Conforto, who just turned 28 on March 1, has been a consistently above-average offensive player and sometimes a force since he debuted in 2015. The former 10th overall pick owns a lifetime line of .259/.358/.484 (127 wRC+) with 118 home runs across 2,501 plate appearances. Last year, albeit just a 60-game campaign, was the best yet on a per-PA basis for Conforto, who took 233 trips to the plate and slashed .322/.412/.515 with nine homers. He benefited from an unsustainable .412 batting average on balls in play – up 107 points from his career .305 mark – but still posted an elite .401 expected weighted on-base average and finished 13th in the majors in wRC+ (157).
Along with his offensive prowess, Conforto has shown himself to be a competent defender in the bigs. While he has been out of place in center field (minus-15 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-4.3 Ultimate Zone Rating), it has been a much different story in the corners. Between left and right, Conforto has notched 17 DRS and a 9.6 UZR in just over 3,700 innings of work.
Considering Conforto’s well-rounded game, not to mention his relative youth, he should do rather well on his next deal. A deal worth $100MM or more may be within reach if he continues to produce this year, but it remains to be seen if it will be New York or another club that ponies up for him.