Michael Conforto is the quiet free agent of the winter. The longtime New York Mets outfielder notably passed on the qualifying offer and then went all 2022 unsigned due to surgery following an injury—according to his agent Scott Boras. Conforto should be fully healthy now and ready to have an entire offseason where he can showcase to teams he’s ready to return to action.
Conforto’s final season with the Mets in 2021 was a major disappointment and a major reason as to why he wasn’t signed before the lockout. He slashed just .232/.344/.384 in 479 plate appearances for the Mets in that ill-fated campaign.
As the Mets look to improve their roster in every which way possible, Conforto is actually not such a bad free agent target to consider. This is true even if the team does re-sign Brandon Nimmo.
How the Mets roster can fit Michael Conforto into the picture even with Brandon Nimmo back
There’s a big belief Conforto will need to settle on a one-year deal. This was the case last offseason coming off of such a miserable campaign. It’s even truer now. He has to prove himself before getting the kind of contract he had originally hoped to get. Even then, Conforto may never again be a candidate to make near $100 million.
The Mets can go into the 2023 season with a similar outfield of Mark Canha in left field, Brandon Nimmo in center field, and Starling Marte over in right field. Jeff McNeil is the obvious backup for the two corner spots with Canha, Marte, and maybe someone like Jake Mangum as center field replacements. We’ll need to pass on Mangum for the purpose of fitting in Conforto. He’d be someone to get promoted due to an injury.
There isn’t a whole lot of room for Conforto until we take a look at the DH spot. One decision can immediately fit him in cleanly. By moving on from Daniel Vogelbach, the Mets would have suddenly had room for Conforto.
However, with Vogelbach returning at least on the option for now, things are getting tighter. He’s going to need to have a righty to start when the team faces lefties. There’s an easy solution to this.
The Mets already have Daniel Vogelbach's platoon partner on the roster
Rotating Canha, Marte, Pete Alonso, Eduardo Escobar, and Francisco Alvarez through as the starting DH when the Mets face a lefty fixes the issue. Problem solved. But exactly where does Conforto fit into the picture in this scenario?
On a 26-man roster, the Mets would have 13 position players. Two catchers plus Alonso and Vogelbach gives us four. McNeil and Luis Guillorme as “rovers” gives us six. Francisco Lindor brings us to seven. Brett Baty and Eduardo Escobar lifts us to nine.
In the outfield, we’d have Canha, Marte, Nimmo, and Conforto. We’ve reached 13 players.
Conforto would not have the same everyday role he did in the past with the Mets. His presence, if all goes well, would allow them to rest some of the veterans regularly. He’d also find himself on the bench more often than he remembers with the purpose of needing to come in late for pinch-hitting opportunities.
Unlike the past when Conforto was a starter, we can view him as a super-depth piece. He’s not the greatest of fits but he’s not a square peg for a round hole either. He’s somewhere in between.
Because Conforto has never played for any other organization, he’s going to be buzzed about in Mets circles. It can work and with only a one-year commitment to him plus the ability to play the outfield, he’s better than a lot of the other free agent sluggers the Mets could be eyeing.
The Mets can find room for Conforto. The bigger question: does it make them better?