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Mets Extension Candidate: Michael Conforto the $100 million player

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets singles during the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Diamondbacks 11-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets singles during the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on September 12, 2019 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Diamondbacks 11-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Keeping Michael Conforto in a New York Mets uniform should be a priority for this team. Do they have any shot at meeting what we can assume becomes a high asking price?

For several years, New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto has been a major extension candidate. There was never much urgency. This is beginning to change.

Conforto began his career with a bang in 2015 but showed the darker side of his game with a poor 2016 campaign. He rebounded in a big way with an All-Star selection in 2017. In the two years since he has stayed rather healthy and continued to put together numbers that easily place him just a few hairs shy of the best outfielders in baseball.

Stat junkies who like statistics which weigh OBP heavily adore Conforto. Those who are a little more traditional and go with the “eye test” and value average in a big way are a little more mixed.

Regardless of where you fall, Conforto is going to get a $100 million contract from someone. Youth will still be on his side when he hits free agency after the 2021 season. The Mets could avoid seeing him play somewhere else with an extension before he goes nomad.

Scooter enters 2020 with an OBP 100 points higher than his batting average. This is a great example of his ability to get on base even when his bat isn’t at its best.

Even while at his worst, Conforto has been an on-base machine. He walks regularly and last year, we saw him set personal highs in hits, doubles, home runs, and RBI among other categories.

The difference between Conforto and other players around his age is that he has yet to have the one explosive season to put him in the MVP race. In some ways similar to Bryce Harper, Conforto is missing the .300+ average seasons Harper has put together.

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Not nearly as dangerous as Harper, Conforto is still a competent player we can expect to get a major deal in free agency. If the Mets really like him, they can be the ones who pay the kid.

As I profiled in my look at Noah Syndergaard and his future with the team, the organization probably will need to choose between the two. James Richards of Rising Apple took a look at a case for each, ultimately deciding it was Thor the team should prioritize.

Syndergaard is similar to Conforto in a lot of ways. The biggest complaint with each has been inconsistency.

Both are highly-skilled and lovers of their game believe they have yet to reach their ceiling.

Because each reaches free agency at the same point, it’s unrealistic to believe anyone other than Steve Cohen would be willing to extend each. In the meantime, we can just hope.

Aside from the obvious reasons why Conforto makes sense as an extension candidate, let’s also consider how few outfielders the Mets actually have coming up the pipeline. The minor league system is rather barren in those spots. While things could change drastically within the next two years, the Mets don’t have any obvious replacement for Conforto internally. If they hope to stay competitive, they’re going to need to bring in someone anyway. Why not hold onto Conforto?

The big obstacle that always jumps out to me whenever thinking about Conforto’s future is his representation. Scott Boras is Conforto’s agent and his reputation with the current Mets owners isn’t the best.

What’s more, Boras prefers his players do get to free agency rather than sign early extensions. More often than not, it seems to work for his clients.

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This doesn’t mean Conforto is gone from Flushing within the next few years. I still do think he’ll test the market. With any luck, he swings back around to the Mets and the relationship can continue for several more years.

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