How does Michael Conforto's oblique injury impact any potential contract talks with the Mets? MLB agents and execs weighed in on that topic, as well as whether or not the Mets should bring in another outfielder. Plus, a look around the NL East, and more ...
Financial impact of Conforto's oblique
Michael Conforto's recent oblique injury certainly puts the Mets in a difficult position when looking at their early-season roster. Additionally, according to one agent and a rival team executive, it also could jeopardize the chance of the Mets making a lucrative contract extension offer.
Extrapolated across a full season's worth of games, Conforto's production through 109 games in 2017 fueled hope he was turning a corner and capable of soon producing a 6.0 WAR season (if not more). He then took a dip, down to the mid 3's, and slightly improved from 2018 to 2019, playing at least 150 games in each season.
As a result, the combination of those three seasons justified at least preliminary talks about a contract extension given Conforto is arbitration eligible in 2021, after which he's a free agent. The reality, though, is that Boras rarely makes a deal that keeps his players from testing the open market. Nevertheless, the above track record at least provided a reason for all sides to talk.
Now, with Conforto's 2020 up in the air, judging his value is also up in the air.
The goal for Conforto was -- and still can be, depending on his return -- to play another full season, which would make it the third straight year of at least 150 games. And, if he improved upon his 3.7 WAR from 2019, he'd be in prime position to at least ask for a five- or six-year extension just shy of $20 million per season.
In the event he put up a breakout, monster campaign -- something in the 6-7 WAR range -- he and agent Scott Boras would almost certainly blow off any extension talks and be in great position for a major contract after 2021.
That is all now in question and hinges very much on how much time Conforto will miss this season.
It stands to reason, insiders say, that the Mets would table any talks until at least knowing he's healthy, back to producing and playing on a regular basis, all of which could take until 2021.
Obviously, the Mets, Conforto and the team's fans hope it never gets to that, he bounces back quickly, is ready for Opening Day (whenever that may be), never skips a beat and rises to the level of a potential MVP candidate.
Bringing in an outfielder
I pick up no vibe that the Mets have had any serious talks with other teams or still-available free agents about joining their outfield -- and I don't think that changes even if Conforto is out for an extended period of time.
Also, there are not many quality or reliable options available, or at least options that are better than J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and gambling on the legs of Yoenis Cespedes.
Specifically, while the Dodgers are said to still be hearing trade offers from teams interested in outfielder Joc Pederson, at this point they're far more likely to keep him as depth on the roster than trade him for a weak return.
"Oakland and the Dodgers are a perfect fit to move Pederson," one insider told me. "That hasn't happened and they've talked a lot. If that situation can get it done, I don't see why any other team will get it done."
Similarly, it may be enticing to think about adding Yasiel Puig, for whatever reason, and he seems to think he's worth more than a one-year, $5-7 million deal, which is what he's reportedly been offered since the middle of winter. And, at a multi-year commitment, adding his personality and drama this late would have the potential for a whole bunch of nonsense the Mets do not need.
"Those guys are fine, but at any sort of cost the Mets would be best-served using what they have, all of which have the chance to be better than (Pederson and Puig)," a veteran front office person told me. "Things seem to be going well in St. Lucie, no need to rock the boat."
Talent evaluators I know all agree that 22-year-old Austin Riley will and should be Atlanta's starting third baseman, though the team continues to say the position remains up for grabs.
This is clearly a make-or-break season for Phillies GM Matt Klentak. He was allowed to spend a lot of his owner's money, which the owner encouraged him to do. It has yet to pan out in the way of even a playoff appearance, let alone a Championship. The fact that owner had more to do with the hiring of Joe Girardi -- a move league insiders have no doubt Klentak would not have made had he had full autonomy over the process -- was the a warning shot over the GM's head.
Even if they are an early-season mess, there's a lot of doubt the Cubs will be sellers at the deadline, including moving 3B Kris Bryant, who we know now is not a free agent until after 2021.
The three people I know connected to MLB's Commissioner's Office think there is zero chance Alex Rodriguez is allowed to own a team in the league given how contentious and inflammatory their relationship has been, dating back to the steroid allegations several years ago.
Rodriguez recently confirmed his interest in heading an investment group in an effort to buy the Mets.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.