The days are getting longer, but the time between now and Opening Day is getting shorter! With three weeks of camp in the books, here is the New York Mets news you may have missed.
Monday began with the unfortunate news that OF/1B José Martínez, who the Mets signed in January to bolster their depth pool, had torn his left meniscus and would be out of action for at least four months to repair and rehab the knee.
In stark comparison to that dreadful news, the highly anticipated Francisco Lindor extension talks officially began and with it also came some initial questions: How much will the Mets offer, and for how long? Will the mega-deal tendered to phenom SS Fernando Tatis Jr. this offseason impact Lindor’s asking price? Conversely, how will his deal affect the organization’s forthcoming negotiations will homegrown star OF Michael Conforto?
All of this – and more – is unpacked in yet another edition of our weekly check-in of news from Mets land.
Mets should avoid “upgrade” at third
It’s been a busy first three weeks of camp, but the Mets’ front office doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Injuries or no, this collection of baseball minds have demonstrated their ‘no stone left unturned’ mentality when searching for ways to fortify their roster.
After an MRI revealed that Martínez would undergo surgery to repair a torn left meniscus (giving him a four-month time frame until he would be able to step back onto a baseball field), the Mets set their sights on free agent third baseman, Maikel Franco as a potential replacement for one of their back-up position players.
Initially pegged as a potential bench player on the Opening Day roster, Martínez’s absence leaves the team just one player short in their otherwise surplus of position players; which the front office spent a lot of time and money assembling prior to the opening of camp.
Still, there doesn’t appear to be a good reason to sign Franco, considering the Mets have back-up infielders Jonathon Villar and Luis Guillorme on the bench in addition to the fact that J.D. Davis is expected to get the starting nod to begin the season in the hot corner.
Despite having some pop at the plate (citing his 8 HRs last season along with owning three consecutive seasons with 20+ long balls), his overall numbers aren’t that exciting (career slash line of .237/.268/.461 ) and the Mets don’t need another depth player – especially one who doesn’t add anything to their team defensively.
Also, since it was never a sure thing that Martínez would make the major league roster, his injury doesn’t leave much of a hole behind in the club’s loaded roster. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like a deal will materialize, and perhaps no action in this situation is the best course for the orange and blue.
What it will take for Mets to extend SS Francisco Lindor?
Acquired back in early January 2021 via a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians, Lindor recorded his first hit in a Mets uniform this week – but he may be scoring something much more lucrative by the end of camp.
The highly anticipated extension talks were announced on Monday. Although no figures have been reported yet, I would expect the final deal to hover around the $175 million range for seven years.
According to Spoctrac.com’s salary rankings, Lindor is entering the 2021 season as the highest paid shortstop in the game after his $22.3 million arbitration settlement with the Mets. However, this projected extension would put him at $25 million AAV and bring him to his age 34 season by the end of the contract.
This extension would be a game-changer for the Mets. But coming off an offseason that featured several blockbuster deals might raise Lindor’s asking price. In fact, The deal that inked Tatis Jr. to a record-breaking 14-year, $340 million is sure to have captured the attention of No. 12’s representatives.
But seeing as Lindor is five years older than Tatis Jr., meaning the overall sum of the deal will be less, his annual salary could still range from mid to high 20s – and even flirt with $30 million to ensure he remains the highest paid shortstop in the game.
Apart from being a superstar talent, Lindor is also proving himself to be a supportive teammate. He’s a player you sign to win championships, and I hope both sides can reach a deal – and soon.
What this means for Michael Conforto’s anticipated extension talks with Mets
Boy, there are a lot of Mets ready to hit the open market after 2021 and unfortunately for the front office, one of their homegrown stars ranks at the top. And while it’s certainly refreshing to see the Mets ‘in’ on one of the superstars of the league, they shouldn’t be drunken sailors when spending their booty.
At age 28, Michael Conforto is gearing up to sign perhaps the biggest deal of his career. Granted, he’s not at the level of Lindor, but is he far from it? What’s the price for a 5-tool outfielder anyway?
Someone like Chicago Cubs OF Jason Heyward is currently playing on an 8-year, $184 million deal with an AAV of $23 million – making him the fourth highest-paid OF in the game today despite his inconsistencies at the plate. Meanwhile, division rival OF Ronald Acuna currently owns a $12.5 million AAV on his 8-year, $100 million contract with the Atlanta Braves – and he’s worth much more than that.
For Conforto, however, he’s worth high-teens to low 20s per year. This year, he’ll be making $12.25 million. But after he signs a new deal in the near future (hopefully), that might cost the Mets close to double his 2021 salary for the next six to seven years, which would bring him to age 35.
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There’s still a fair amount of time between now and Opening Day. But signing Lindor and Conforto must be a priority; especially over inconsequential deals at this point – like depth.