Michael Conforto's status for Opening Day was very much in doubt before Major League Baseball canceled the remainder of spring training and delayed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to coronavirus.
While Conforto could now potentially return by Opening Day (which will be no earlier than April 9), it's still unclear how the oblique injury he suffered will impact his 2020 season and -- potentially -- his future with the Mets.
According to one agent and a rival team executive who spoke with MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone, Conforto's injury could jeopardize the chances of the Mets soon making him a lucrative contract extension offer.
Instead, per the agent and executive, the Mets could want to table any talks until Conforto proves not only that the injury is behind him, but that there are no ill-effects.
Speaking last week on Baseball Night in New York on SNY before Conforto's injury, former Mets and Braves front office exec Adam Fisher said two contract comps for Conforto could be Nick Castellanos and Charlie Blackmon.
"If you take that and start with Castellanos, I think we're talking about Charlie Blackmon who signed a contract a couple of years ago. That's not necessarily the ceiling, but I think that's also a very good comp. So for some type of compromise, you want to see them come together somewhere in between. I'd say closer to Charlie Blackmon, which was five (years) for $94 (million). Somewhere in that range is what we're talking about for Conforto. ... I would say in between those two but a little bit closer to Blackmon."
Conforto recently told SNY contributor John Harper that he is open to signing long-term with the Mets before hitting free agency after the 2021 season, but did not make it seem like it was at the top of his mind. He did, however, point out that it would be his call -- not that of agent Scott Boras.
"At this point I'm just looking at being excited about this season," Conforto said. "It would be nice to have the future set but it's gotta make sense for me to do that. Maybe the conversation gets a little different next year but right now I'm just locked in on 2020.
"Those are big decisions and it can become a distraction. If I go out there and play the way I'm capable of, everything will take care of itself. Scott's got my best interests in mind but at the end of the day it's my decision."
The Mets' outfield situation is largely unsettled in 2021 and beyond, with it not yet clear if J.D. Davis will be able to handle a corner outfield spot on a full-time basis, Yoenis Cespedes a free agent after this season, Brandon Nimmo out of place in center field, and no impact outfield prospects on the horizon.
The 27-year-old Conforto hit .257/.363/.494 with 33 homers and 29 doubles in 151 games last season. Over his five-year career, Conforto has hit .253/.353/.481 with 109 homers (an average of 31 per 162 games).
Because of the above, it would be very wise for the Mets to attempt to lock up Conforto sooner rather than later.