Ranking the priority level for Mets extension candidates: Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, and more

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Danny Abriano
·5 min read
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Marcus Stroman, Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, and Noah Syndergaard TREATED ART
Marcus Stroman, Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, and Noah Syndergaard TREATED ART

Under new owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson, the Mets have made waves this offseason by pulling off a blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco while adding key pieces elsewhere on the roster.

James McCann has been brought in as the starting catcher, Trevor May was signed to fortify the back end of the bullpen, and Marcus Stroman returned after accepting the one-year qualifying offer.

But while the Mets have turned themselves into legitimate World Series contenders and are almost certainly not finished (Trevor Bauer and Jackie Bradley Jr. are among the possibilities remaining on the market), New York still has a lot of in-house work to do.

Most of that work will likely revolve around potential extensions for pending free agents Lindor and Michael Conforto, but Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are also set to hit the market after the 2021 season and should not get lost in the shuffle.

The Mets will likely not retain all four players beyond this season, but they should at least explore the possibility of an extension with all of them.

Let's rank what the Mets' priority level should be with the extension candidates, starting with No. 4...

No. 4: Marcus Stroman

Stroman will earn $18.9 million this season after accepting the qualifying offer, and he has had an impressive career up to this point.

In six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Mets, Stroman has posted a 3.76 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while striking out 7.4 batters per 9 innings.

Always working on new things and tinkering with his repertoire to add different wrinkles, Stroman is a tireless worker with very good upside -- he had a 3.09 ERA in 2017 and 3.22 ERA in 2019.

Despite not missing a ton of bats, Stroman excels in other ways, due in part to the elite spin rates he's been generating with his fastball and curve.

Stroman also induces a ton of ground balls, and should be helped in 2021 and potentially beyond with Lindor's elite defense now behind him at shortstop.

No. 3: Noah Syndergaard

If the Mets sign Bauer, it might change the dynamic when it comes to Syndergaard. Specifically, would New York sign a third pitcher (after Jacob deGrom and Bauer) to a big deal, especially when they need to extend Lindor and Conforto? Perhaps not.

But while we're on the subject of Bauer, there's an easy argument to make that Syndergaard (who is 20 months younger than Bauer) is the better long-term option.

Many people seem to forget just how good Syndergaard has been, perhaps because of the other dominant pitchers he's been around in the Mets' rotation and because of the sky-high expectations that have been placed on him.

But here's what Syndergaard has done since debuting in 2015, with the 2019 season (right before it was discovered he needed Tommy John surgery) skewing the numbers a bit:

3.31 ERA (2.92 FIP) and 1.16 WHIP while averaging 9.7 strikeouts per 9 in 716 innings.

Here's what Bauer has done since debuting in 2012:

3.90 ERA (3.85 FIP) and 1.26 WHIP while averaging 9.7 strikeouts per 9 in 1,190 innings.

If Syndergaard looks healthy during spring training, the Mets might want to make a strong effort to get him locked up.

No. 2: Michael Conforto

The Mets chose the possibility of Conforto tomorrow over George Springer today, SNY's Andy Martino reported in January.

And with Conforto on the record as being open to an extension -- and Alderson saying earlier this offseason that a long-term deal would be discussed -- it's time for the Mets to make it happen.

It won't be cheap, but it shouldn't be cheap to lock up a player entering his age-28 season who has a career slugging percentage near .500, averages 30 homers per 162 games, is very popular in the clubhouse, and is one of the faces of the franchise.

While the Mets were tempted to sign Springer, going long on Conforto was always the better play if they were only going with one of them.

Now, with less than two months to go until the start of the regular season and with Scott Boras salivating over what Conforto might be able to get on the open market, the Mets are on the clock.

No. 1 Francisco Lindor

During the news conference announcing the acquisition of Lindor, Alderson was coy about the Mets' chances to extend him, but made it clear that he was optimistic about their chances.

"It's your assumption that we have optimism," Alderson said with a smirk on Jan. 7 when asked about a long-term deal for Lindor. "I think what we have to offer is a great city, a great baseball city. An organization that we hope is on the rise. There's a lot of excitement associated with new ownership. I think there are a lot of reasons why we should be optimistic about any follow-up decision that we want to make."

Speaking during his own intro news conference, Lindor said that he was open to an extension.

"To all those fans out there, I live life day by day," Lindor said on Jan. 11. "I’m extremely happy and excited with what’s happening right now, but I haven’t really sat down and talked to anybody. Yeah, I had the welcoming conversations and I’m excited about it. I can’t wait. I have never been against an extension. I have never been against signing long-term.”

During the same news conference, though, Lindor said he would likely cut off talks at the end of spring training if an agreement hadn't been reached.

The potential free agent shortstop class after the 2021 season is tantalizing, and could include Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez. But there is no guarantee that any of them will actually reach free agency.

27-year-old two-way superstars who play shortstop and have the kind of personality and clubhouse presence of Lindor are nearly impossible to find. And the Mets will likely have to give him a deal that could reach as high as $300 million in order to sign him before he hits free agency. But it should be their top priority.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Washington
+110--
NY Mets
-134--