MARCH 25: Lindor and the Mets remain in talks, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who tweets that “it feels like there’s a bit of optimism” they’ll reach an agreement.
MARCH 22: As of now, there isn’t much optimism that the Mets and Conforto will reach a deal, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets.
MARCH 21: Conforto told reporters (including Mike Puma of the New York Post) that negotiations were ongoing, though didn’t commit on any specific details. In regards to any deadline on talks, Conforto said “Ideally, I would not like” negotiations to extend beyond Opening Day.
MARCH 19: The Mets have made an initial extension offer to shortstop Francisco Lindor and to right fielder Michael Conforto, reports SNY’s Andy Martino. No deal is close with either player at this time. The New York Post’s Mike Puma tweets that there’s no real movement in talks at this point.
The initial offer to Lindor, according to Martino, clocked in slightly below $300MM in guaranteed money. Lindor and agent David Meter unsurprisingly countered with a number “well over” $300MM in total guarantees. While the team’s first offering didn’t begin with a three, Martino adds that the Mets are “almost certainly” willing to go to that $300MM mark to sign Lindor.
That said, a $300MM mark as long seemed something of a floor for Lindor in extension talks. Manny Machado received ten years and $300MM from the Padres two years ago — albeit at a younger age. In the 24 months since that time, we’ve seen Bryce Harper (13 years, $330MM), Mike Trout (10 years, $360MM on top of his contract’s two preexisting years), Mookie Betts (12 years, $365MM) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 years, $340MM) eclipse the $300MM mark as well.
The length of the Mets’ offer and Lindor’s counter isn’t known, though given his age (27), it stands to reason that he could also be in line for a deal spanning a decade or more at $30MM-plus annually. The Harper and Tatis deals don’t come with that $30MM AAV, but that’s by design in Harper’s case, as he took a longer deal to deflate the AAV and reduce the Phillies’ luxury hit. The Tatis contract, meanwhile, includes all of his arbitration seasons, which naturally suppresses the annual rate. A Lindor deal, assuming it begins in 2022 — he’s already signed for the ’21 season — would be solely be buying out free-agent seasons.
There are no details known yet on the Mets’ offer to Conforto, though as a Scott Boras-represented All-Star who is set to hit free agency as well this winter, history suggests a deal could be tough to put together. It’s well documented that Boras clients largely tend to go to the open market, though the narrative that they “never” sign extensions is also something of an overstatement. Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez, Jered Weaver and Elvis Andrus all inked extensions in the early 2010s, and more recent examples include Stephen Strasburg, Jose Altuve (his second extension) and Xander Bogaerts. There’s certainly precedent for an extension, even if it’s not commonplace.
Lindor has made known that he prefers to cut off talks once the season begins, although Boras declined to state there was any such endpoint with regard to Conforto. Asked by Martino whether April 1 (Opening Day) was a firm deadline for a deal, he replied: “Michael is focused on the season and his performance. Not addressing any contract questions.” That deliberately vague answer doesn’t tip his hand one way or another, but it’s semi-notable that Boras chose not to limit the negotiation period to a confined window, as many players and agents seem to do. Also notable is the fact that the aforementioned Strasburg extension (seven years, $175MM) came in May 2016 — well after Opening Day.
Mets fans are strongly hoping to see one or both players extended beyond the 2021 season, although even if no deal comes together, it’s always possible the club could still pull off a deal in free agency next winter. The Mets needn’t look beyond their own division to see a prominent example of a star player who couldn’t come to terms on an extension with his club but ultimately stayed there via free agency: Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.