The New York Mets face a pivotal offseason. After finishing with a disappointing 77-85 record, the team dismissed manager Luis Rojas in the first move of the offseason, with many more expected in the days and weeks ahead.
This result was a far cry from what the team expected. Mets fans were disillusioned into thinking 2021 was going to be the year they take back the division title. Now they face a difficult decision of Brobdingnagian proportions, and that is whether they will retain none, some, or all of their four key free agents.
Those key free agents that are discussed here are Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Javier Baez. While all of them were regulars during the 2021 regular season, some of them played better than others, which raises the question as to who is more valuable to the team going forward.
However, despite these four players having better seasons than others, all of them offer something to the Mets organization, and making a decision on whether to resign them or not will not be an easy one for the team to make. In this article, an argument is made why Conforto, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Baez should be brought back for 2022.
Why the New York Mets need to bring back Michael Conforto
Michael Conforto may have played a key role in the Mets 2015 run to the World Series, and he may be a fan favorite, but he underperformed on all accounts in 2021. His uninspired performance provided fans and team officials many glimpses into what was ailing him, and a concerning trend was how lost he looked at the plate this season.
With that being said, not bringing Conforto back would be a mistake, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he could very well bounce back next season or that he is a homegrown player. The main reason why the Mets should retain Conforto is because of positional need.
Consider how the Mets outfield is currently constructed. Dominic Smith is playing out of position, Jeff McNeil is better suited to either play second or third base, and Kevin Pillar may not be with the team in 2022, given that he only signed a one-year deal. Right now, the Mets outfield is nearly a blank canvas.
It goes without saying, then, that the Mets will need to sign two outfielders at a minimum. A glance at the outfield market indicates that despite Conforto’s down year, there are not many other outfielders who were significantly better. Charlie Blackmon had a decent year with the Rockies, but he’s 35, which doesn’t bode well for his ability to man the outfield in spacious Citi Field. Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia, and Kole Calhoun will probably end up back with their 2021 clubs. Other options such as Starling Marte, Tommy Pham, Eddie Rosario, and Andrew McCutchen may be available, but are they much better than Conforto?
With Brandon Nimmo in center, the Mets would be better off bringing Conforto back to play right field, and then poaching one of Marte or Pham to play left field.