There’s no guarantee Michael Conforto makes the 2019 New York Mets Opening Day roster. Let’s hope he has a strong second-half to ensure he does.
Michael Conforto hasn’t had the type of season many New York Mets had hoped for. Following an All-Star campaign in 2017, Conforto returned from an injury this year with unfavorable results. Though premature, I’m not confident in saying he has a guaranteed spot on next year’s Opening Day roster.
You see, the Mets are in a roster bind already. In particular, it’s the outfield where they have lots of decisions to make.
We know Yoenis Cespedes will return next season barring some kind of inexplicable change. Jay Bruce should also be back as will Brandon Nimmo. There’s a chance Cespedes or Bruce move to first base, but I wouldn’t count on it. The wiser decision is to give that position to Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso. They cannot delay the inevitable. The kids need to play.
Conforto finished the first half of 2018 batting .216/.344/.366. Aside from the OBP, these numbers are far from enviable.
In an ideal world, Conforto finishes the season strong. Then he wins a starting outfield job outright this season. Who cares if Bruce makes a lot more money? Conforto is the one the Mets need to play.
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The reality we live in doesn’t guarantee this. Conforto has slumped regularly throughout the season. I have zero confidence he finishes the year hitting above .250. If he’s at .230 by game 162, I’ll consider it a success.
I’m interested to see what the Mets do this offseason with their outfield. Assuming Juan Lagares is also able to return healthy, they could employ five major leaguers on Opening Day with everyday abilities. Lagares is a trade candidate to consider over the winter, but considering he will return from a season-ending injury, can we really believe they could get much back?
Starting Conforto in the minor leagues next season could give him the fire to start hitting better. I was against sending him down this year. At that point, the Mets would only ruin his confidence and hurt their own chances at success.
Next year, it’s a little different. Placing an experienced player in AAA makes a bit more sense at the start of the season. It’s not uncommon to see. Without knowing him personally, I can’t tell you what kind of effect it would have on his confidence.
In Conforto’s case, he needs to do what he can do to keep his job. Until he actually takes a large chunk out of this team’s payroll, the Mets have a reason to hide him in the minor leagues.
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What do you think Conforto needs to do to win a 2019 Opening Day roster spot?