Mets chose Michael Conforto tomorrow over George Springer today

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Andy Martino
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto celebrates
New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto celebrates

At the beginning of the offseason, George Springer was the only one of this year’s “Big Three” free agents, a group that also included J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer, whom the Mets planned to seriously pursue.

For a few months, they did just that. But as the holidays approached, and especially after trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in the New Year, a persistent question nagged in the minds of the Mets’ front office: What about Michael Conforto?

The Mets love Conforto. They drafted and developed him, and are now watching as he blossoms into a star and quiet leader. And they were not comfortable having two outfielders on rich long-term deals as they crept deeper into their 30s (Springer is 31, Conforto turns 28 in March).

Yes, Steve Cohen has nearly unlimited resources. But neither he nor Sandy Alderson wants to commit so many of those resources, not to mention roster spots, and limit flexibility for so many years.

This is a large part of why the Mets mostly bailed on Springer negotiations over the past few weeks. They were more “in” than in after the Lindor trade, as they thought hard about what it would mean for Conforto.

With Springer off the board, the Mets can now turn their attention to locking up Conforto, which they have intended to do since day one of the new regime. It’s a long way from intention to agreement, and Conforto could yet flee, but make no mistake: The Mets chose this possibility over Springer.

In a similar vein, they can consider locking up Lindor, too. There are conspiracy websites like Twitter dot com on which users post unsubstantiated claims that the team acquired Lindor with the assumption that they would extend him. This is not true. You can read all about that here if you like. But they will certainly try, and it will be easier without Springer.

The Mets are not done spending on next year’s roster, either. Expect additions in the bullpen, outfield and possibly third base. They have at least $20 million to go before hitting the luxury tax threshold that they do not plan to exceed, though extensions for Conforto and Lindor would shrink that number considerably.

Everyone seems to want to know about Brad Hand and Jackie Bradley Jr. Both are possible for the Mets, but both bring complications. Hand and the Mets were deep in serious talks last week, and then Hand switched agents. He will sign a multi-year deal somewhere, and the Mets haven’t been willing to do that yet with him. Alex Colome is one of several alternatives who would command slightly less.

At the beginning of the offseason, Bradley’s asking price was said to be extremely high (there is a rumor of a number going around that is so astronomical that we can’t publish it in good faith). Mets fans thinking, “Oh, we missed on Springer, let’s just grab JBJ at a discount” are overly optimistic. He doesn’t expect to come cheap (nor should he -- it’s his one shot at free agency in his prime).

We’re told that with all center field options -- and they are numerous, from Bradley to Albert Almora to Brett Gardner to Enrique Hernandez to trades for Lorenzo Cain etc. etc. -- the Mets are taking a beat to regroup and figure out their plan.

You can bet that they’re beginning those discussions in their daily baseball operations Zoom meeting, which continues without pause despite the recent firing of GM Jared Porter. After a few more of those internal chats, the team’s plans for Bradley and others will be more clear.