The qualifying offer has become one of the best ways for a Major League Baseball team to keep a free agent around for another season without having to actually sign him to a multi-year deal. It’s a way to pay a player a premium price without a long commitment. The New York Mets were able to retain Marcus Stroman for the 2021 season this way. Can they do the same next year as well?
The Mets have a decent-sized free agent class coming up this offseason. Stroman is a free agent yet again but because he accepted the qualifying offer last offseason, he is no longer eligible to get one again.
This leaves the Mets with a few other qualifying offer candidates. As the year winds down, no one seems like a sure bet to receive one.
Mets qualifying offer candidate: Michael Conforto
It seems like a given that Michael Conforto would receive a qualifying offer from the Mets. Even an average year from him would warrant one. If Conforto performed anything close to what the super-optimists believe(d) he could, turning it down would be an easy decision for the team’s longtime right fielder.
Conforto has done very little to guarantee himself much of anything this winter. Finishing off one of the worse seasons of his career, a qualifying offer would be a massive overpayment.
The qualifying offer for 2022 will be close to the $18.9 million it was set at last winter. Is Conforto worth this amount?
I understand both arguments. The Mets get the benefit of having Conforto for another year without the risk of seeing him flounder yet again and possibly head toward an early-career decline. On the other hand, why reward a player for such a bad year with any massive sum at all?
Conforto has years of baseball left to play. Because the Mets may only have interest in handing out one of these offers, he may not even get a chance to turn it down or accept it.
The team does, after all, have another younger first-time free agent that the qualifying offer could make sense for.