Free agent outfielder Michael Conforto will reject the Mets’ $18.4MM qualifying offer and explore the free agent market, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). Should he sign elsewhere, the Mets would be entitled to draft pick compensation.
Conforto is coming off a down platform year, leading some fans to suggest he could accept the QO in hopes of re-testing free agency next winter off a better showing. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported in mid-September that the Mets expected Conforto to reject the offer even in spite of his atypically poor numbers, though, so today’s development comes as little surprise.
Heading into the 2021 season, Conforto looked to be one of the top position players in this year’s class. From 2019-20, he’d hit .274/.376/.499, numbers that were 35 percentage points above the league average by measure of wRC+. That placed him in the top twenty qualified hitters, seemingly making Conforto a candidate to exceed nine figures with a typical platform year.
2021 was anything but typical, though, as Conforto slumped to a .232/.344/.384 line with just 14 home runs across 479 plate appearances. Those were his worst results since 2016, but they came with a career-low 21.7% strikeout rate and batted ball numbers not too dissimilar from his marks of years past. Entering his age-29 season, Conforto looks to be a prime bounceback target for suitors, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports his representatives at the Boras Corporation have already heard from upwards of twelve teams during the early stages of free agency. Depending on his priority, Conforto could still look to land a solid multi-year deal and lock in some long-term security or try to top the qualifying offer value on a one-year deal with designs on hitting the market again after 2022.
Teams who sign a qualified free agent will have to surrender at least one draft pick, and potentially some international bonus pool money depending on their status as revenue-sharing recipients or whether or not they exceeded the luxury tax threshold. Last month, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes broke down which picks each team would forfeit in so doing. As a team who neither exceeded the luxury tax threshold nor received revenue sharing in 2021, New York will receive a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B (typically around 70-75 overall) in next year’s amateur draft were Conforto to sign elsewhere.