Mets needlessly playing with fire if Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor enter season without extensions

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Danny Abriano
·5 min read
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Francisco Lindor with mask and Michael Conforto TREATED ART
Francisco Lindor with mask and Michael Conforto TREATED ART

As the first Mets offseason under Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Zack Scott drew to a close, it ended without the team signing any of the biggest free agents -- something that was obsessed over by many.

The Mets chose to sign James McCann instead of waiting out J.T. Realmuto's market, would not get into a bidding war for George Springer, and offered more to Trevor Bauer than the Los Angeles Dodgers -- only to see Bauer choose the west coast instead of Queens.

While lots of fans were disappointed that the Mets didn't sign any of the big free agents, it was easy to understand what the thinking was.

By not getting locked into huge long-term deals, the Mets -- seeking to become a perennial contender and build smartly with Cohen's billions -- left themselves the flexibility to extend their own homegrown stars and any stars they traded for, such as Francisco Lindor.

And despite not adding Realmuto or Springer or Bauer, the Mets turned themselves into a legitimate contender for 2021.

Still, the offseason will seem incomplete and the philosophy they used while executing it will seem faulty if the Mets don't extend both Lindor and Michael Conforto.

Acting GM Zack Scott said on Feb. 12 that the Mets would soon discuss extensions with Lindor and Conforto, and reiterated that plan again on Feb. 22.

So far, though, things have been silent.

Said Lindor on Monday:

"We haven't found the time. Obviously got to get to know the organization, get to know the people. And they have to get to know me. If something comes up, we'll see in the future. ... There's mutual interest. Like I said earlier, I've never been shy about an extension."

Said Conforto on Tuesday:

"I can't lie and say that I haven't thought about it. But I'm trying to keep my focus where it needs to be, and that's on this team. And so that's where we're at."

While talks haven't started yet between the Mets and either Lindor or Conforto, it should be noted that Scott said on Feb. 12 that the plan was to kick the talks in gear at spring training. And both Lindor and Conforto just arrived. So there's time.

But especially in the case of Lindor, who has set a loose deadline of Opening Day to get a deal done, it could start to get late pretty quickly.

Yes, the Mets could let the season play out and allow either Lindor or Conforto to reach free agency before attempting to re-sign one or both of them. But the potential downside of that outweighs any reason for waiting.

When it comes to Conforto, who is entering his seventh year as a Met, is one of the most productive outfielders in baseball, is smack in the middle of his prime, and has become a leader in the clubhouse, what else is there to see?

Additionally as it pertains to Conforto, the Mets chose the possibility of him tomorrow over Springer today, SNY's Andy Martino reported earlier this offseason.

Sure, the Mets could possibly outbid any team for Conforto if he hits the open market. But why wait and play that dangerous game when they already have a player who wants to be here?

Why run the risk that a player who is represented by Scott Boras has an unbelievable 2021 season, vaulting his potential price tag over $200 million.

The time is now for the Mets to strike a deal with Conforto. No more playing around.

Things are a bit trickier with Lindor.

Lindor said on Monday that he still needs to get to know the organization, and vice versa. So perhaps that feeling out process is ongoing, and talks on an extension will start after it's over.

But as is the case with Conforto, the Mets really shouldn't be waiting to see anything from Lindor.

Widely viewed as a tremendous clubhouse presence and as someone with an infectious personality both on the field and off, Lindor is the kind of superstar player the Mets should be falling all over themselves to get locked up long-term.

Sure, the Mets and any other team can gaze at the shortstops who could hit the free agent market after the season -- Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez -- and tell themselves they can simply land one of them if Lindor walks. But there is no guarantee any of those players (let alone all of them) reach free agency.

The Colorado Rockies have interest in extending Story and the Houston Astros have interest in doing the same with Correa.

It should also be noted that when it comes down to it, Lindor is arguably the best of the bunch anyway. And he's already a Met.

The Mets don't need to extend Lindor in order for them to be pleased with the trade they made for him, as team president Sandy Alderson said shortly after making it. But losing him after just one season would be unfortunate. And it's the risk the Mets will be running if they don't get an extension done by Opening Day.

As the Mets' offseason passed without them snagging any of the biggest free agents, those looking at the bigger picture have been quick to point out the grand plan -- the one where the team soon hands out huge extensions to keep Conforto and Lindor in the fold.

While lots of fans hate talking about the luxury tax threshold and payroll in general, it's a thing every front office and every owner cares about. And the Mets have set themselves up well when it comes to future payroll flexibility, including their ability to fit in huge deals for both Conforto and Lindor.

But if they let Conforto and/or Lindor walk, the offseason they just completed won't seem nearly as smart and calculated as it does right now. And their long-term goal of building a perennial contender will take a big hit.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
NY Mets
-106--
Washington
-115--