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The New York Mets and lefty slugger Michael Conforto were supposed to be headed towards an extension, but now New York Post’s Mike Puma reports that the sides “aren’t even close to an agreement.”
Apparently they’re so far apart that folks are expecting Conforto to finish out his contract year without a deal and then become a free agent. After the monstrous season the Mets got out of their lefty slugger in 2020, who could blame them here? As a matter of fact, the Mets are playing this perfectly, and I’ll explain why.
Mets and Michael Conforto never really got close on an extension this spring. Both sides in different realms as far as dollars. While Conforto hasn’t drawn a hard line on Opening Day to finish extension talks, there is a much better chance of him heading to free agency than not.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) March 31, 2021
Here’s DeGrom speaking about what it’s like to play during contract negotiations:
Jacob deGrom weighs in on a player’s mindset — like Francisco Lindor or Michael Conforto — with an extension deadline looming before Opening Day: pic.twitter.com/sIBrHLlmdP— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 26, 2021
Jacob DeGrom insists he used baseball to “take his mind off” negotiations, but isn’t he forgetting that the feeling of proving yourself potentially improves performance? Conforto hit .322 last season (a career-best, by far), which likely had to do with him expecting contract negotiations this offseason.
The team may see Conforto’s short-season success as an outlier and don’t want to over-pay, especially with a deal for star shortstop Francisco Lindor looming. They don’t want to reach in the pockets for 10 years and roughly $350 million only to overpay for a returning player like Conforto that same season. The Mets have to find a bargain somewhere.
Among 119 hitters who have recorded a min. 400 PAs against fastballs since 2019 (4-seamers, 2-seamers, cutters, sinkers), Michael Conforto owns the 20th-highest xwOBA at .407.#Mets #LGM @Metsmerized pic.twitter.com/TBOXVpJMaB— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) February 25, 2021
How this should go (if the Mets are smart):
If Mets owner Steve Cohen plays this right, then he could watch Michael Conforto play himself into accepting their initial offer. If Conforto plays up to last year’s standards, the team would then feel comfortable spending big on him.
It’s a win-win for the Mets to wait on Conforto, and it’ll pay off in the end.