Simulated crowd noises, the early spring rotation, and Michael Conforto could be a problem solver
The Mets intrasquad game at Clover Park is free for fans to attend
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
The Mets signed RHP Tim Adleman and SS Tzu-Wei Lin to minor league contracts.
Jacob deGrom struck out Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil in his first live batting practice session of the spring.
Mets manager Buck Showalter piped in crowd noise into the Clover Park bowl during the club’s sim game to simulate crowd noise, or real-life conditions (New York Post)
The Mets offered Michael Conforto a long-term deal in the $100-120 million range last spring (SNY)
The Mets will play an intraqsuad game today at 1:10 PM at Clover Park - parking and admissions for fans are both free of charge (Mets.com)
The Mets announced their starting pitchers for the first four games of the Grapefruit League schedule:
Saturday: Josh Walker
Sunday: David Peterson
Monday: Max Scherzer
Tuesday Jacob deGrom
Michael Conforto can suddenly be a problem solver for the Mets📝
When free agency began prior to the start of the owner-imposed lockout, and even the first few days after the lockout was lifted, all indications were the Mets were comfortable letting outfielder Michael Conforto depart.
But over a week since baseball reopened for business, and less than three weeks until opening day, I’m starting to think their needs have changed.
With the Dodgers signing Freddie Freeman to a long-term deal and the Braves moving on from Freeman with a trade and long-term deal for Matt Olson specifically, the running narrative has turned into that of both of those clubs creating more distance from the Mets, and another bat for the Mets possibly determining the difference between winning a meaningful game against both, whether that’s during the regular year or the playoffs.
That could very well be true. Championships are won with pitching, defense, and clutch hitting. The Mets in large measure have the pitching and defense for elite competition.
Coming off a seriously disappointing 2021 season, Conforto is clearly having difficulty landing the type of contract he believed he was in-line for prior to reaching free agency. And with one of the teams connected to him most this offseason, the Rockies, signing Kris Bryant to a long-term pact and the club stating he’s going to play left field for them, where does that leave the market for Conforto?
With draft compensation tied to him, the answers are not plentiful for Conforto. While both sides may not have anticipated a reunion when free-agency began, each day that passes without Conforto landing somewhere else makes it seem as though the likelihood of Conforto spending the 2022 season in Queens increases.
Logically speaking, anyway.
Considering the calendar and where Conforto’s’ market stands, the Mets should be interested in discussing a short-term deal with him now. Perhaps they could come to terms on a one-year deal which would allow him the opportunity to rebound and better position himself for another attempt at free-agency next winter?
The Mets have a fair amount of depth, but Conforto can unquestionably make the roster better. And given Conforto’s upside (remember - he hit .255/.348/.451 in 71 games after July 16 last season), Bringing Conforto back on a one-year contract could be a great value play while transforming the roster at the same time.
At worst, Conforto would serve as depth at two positions in the outfield (for what it’s worth Brandon Nimmo gets hurt frequently), and at best, he returns to the All-Star caliber form he demonstrated in both 2017 and 2020. It would remain to be seen if Conforto could earn an everyday role again with the Mets, but the designated hitter would afford him plenty of plate appearances anyway, especially against right-handed pitching (he had a .792 OPS against the right side in 2021). Conforto would also be valuable insurance for Mark Canha in the event he struggles against right-handed pitching or needs to be spelled overall. But between Conforto, Canha, Nimmo, Starling Marte, Dominic Smith and JD Davis, the Mets outfield depth chart would be as strong as any team in the league (assuming nobody is traded).
New York should still be very good without Conforto. They could platoon Smith and Canha in an outfield corner and this line-up should still score runs. But given their current roster, Conforto would be a less important piece for them than he had to be in the past, even if he costs upwards of $20 million in 2022. And if he could produce somewhere in between what he produced in 2020 and 2021 at a minimum, he would make the offense a whole lot better. Maybe not to the caliber of the Dodgers yet, but formidable none the less.
It doesn’t mean if they passed on Conforto, they wouldn’t be able to beat the Dodgers or Braves in a short series. Good, healthy pitching on any team makes winning possible. Look at the Braves against the Astros last year, look at the Nationals against the Astros in 2019 (you know, the ring Max Scherzer earned that year).
But they need to get to those matchups first.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Padres are showing interest in trading for 1B Luke Voit (Athletic)
The Padres are also discussing a deal for free agent OF Jorge Soler (Athletic)
The Rangers have agreed to sign RHP Garrett Richards (MLB Network)
MLB and the MLBPA are discussing using the the extra-inning ghost runner rule in 2022 (Heyman)
The Tigers have entered into discussions with the A’s for both Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas (Heyman)
RHP Jimmy Nelson is going back to the Dodgers (Heyman)
MLB and the MLBPA both agreed to extend Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave through at least April 16.