Monday Morning GM: Rivals lining up for Michael Conforto

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets
St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

It’s unclear exactly where Michael Conforto will sign this offseason. The MLB lockout has put the former New York Mets outfielder in limbo as to which city he’ll call home in 2022. And despite such a poor season in 2021, he should have plenty of suitors who believe in his abilities.

Conforto has already been linked to the Miami Marlins via offseason rumors pre-lockout, predicted to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, and could even find his way to the other two teams in the National League East, the defending champion Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. Both of them could certainly use some outfield help even if it’s not necessarily in right field.

Could it be that after a career of knowing nothing but the Mets that we see Conforto end up playing his ex-club multiple times each season?

The Mets could see a lot more of Michael Conforto for years to come

The decision to offer Conforto the qualifying offer was a no-brainer. A big reason for the qualifying offer itself is to give a player a one-year “prove it” contract. Conforto has something to prove.

Rather than accept it and return to the Mets, Conforto rejected the QO and entered the free agent pool. He didn’t get a contract before the lockout began but that’s not necessarily a surprise. Many of the best free agents out there are still jobless for 2022. Other than the Mets, the other four teams in the NL East remained relatively quiet.

It may not seem like the Mets’ biggest division rivals are the most natural of fits for Conforto. The Braves still do have Adam Duvall but with many of their midseason acquisitions in the outfield now gone and the likely incoming DH, Conforto could be their new right fielder.

The Marlins’ connection to Conforto was a big surprise considering they already signed Avisail Garcia. However, as noted in the rumored report, they could view him as a center field option. Plus, there’s always left field for them to plot one of the two.

In Philadelphia, Bryce Harper has right field occupied for the next decade. Something important to remember about Conforto—aside from how well he hits at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark—is that until 2019 he was playing a lot of left field. Paired up with Harper in the other corner, he could help give the Phillies a major offensive boost.

Finally, there are the Nationals. They’re in a similar situation as the Phillies with a young player in right field. Juan Soto is a superstar at the position and not going anywhere anytime soon. Again, what’s to stop them from moving Conforto to left field?

Conforto isn’t fleeing the Mets for a bigger contract. They made their offer. He turned it down. They appear to have moved on.

It may be tough for many fans to see Conforto in a different club’s uniform, especially if it’s with one of the biggest rivals of the orange and blue. However, things seemed to end amicably. There is no bad blood here setting up Conforto to do something rare and actually get cheers in Queens while wearing a rival’s uniform.

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