Coming Out of Left Field: Michael Conforto
The Yankees have a bunch of outfielders, but nobody really good yet for left. This week we'll look at options of who could be there in 23!
Michael Conforto Overview:
Coming out of Oregon State University- by way of Seattle, Washington,- Michael Conforto was the 10th player taken overall in the 2014 MLB Draft by the New York Mets. As a junior baseball player, Conforto had just won his second Pac-12 player of the year award and also was a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award. After spending the rest of his draft year in the minor leagues, Conforto would make his MLB debut halfway through the 2015 season and would enter 2016 as the starting left fielder for the Mets.
And that starting gig lasted for Conforto until the end of June, when Conforto was demoted back to Triple-A due to very poor performance. He would return just under a month later and take on more of a 4th outfielder role. That would be his same role going into 2017, but good play and an All-Star selection helped propel him into the starting role...for another 2 months before a season-ending shoulder injury.
Conforto would then play healthy and very well through the rest of his contract with the Mets from 2018 through 2021. During this time he rejected a $100 Million contract from the Mets as well as a qualifying offer for 2022. It was during the 2021-2022 lockout that Conforto was a free agent, during which- with agent Scott Boras- Conforto was unable to come to any contract agreement. This was also in part due to Conforto having finished the 2021 seaosn injured (and how he went through another shoulder surgery that offseason), which caused him to miss the 2022 season.
Michael Conforto was offered a 2 year/$30,000,000 contract with the Houston Astros at the very end of August during this past season (which would've made him postseason eligible). He rejected that offer as well.
Michael Conforto Statistics:
Michael Conforto has been in the Major Leagues for parts of 7 seasons. During this time, he has played 757 games (of 1032 possible) which does not include missing another 162 by sitting out this past season. During this time, Conforto has hit to a .255/.356/.468/.824 quadruple slash (124 OPS+) along with 650 hits, 132 home runs, 396 RBI's, and 361 walks to 710 strikeouts. This has led to a combined +15.7 bWAR and a +19.3 fWAR.
In the past 3 seasons (including 2022), Conforto has played in 179 games (of a possible 384) while hitting to a combined .262/.367/.428/.794 (118 OPS+) alongside 159 hits, 23 home runs, 86 RBI's, and 83 walks to 161 strikeouts. This has also brought in +3.0 bWAR and +3.4 fWAR.
Is he an Option?
Michael Conforto is one of those players that could be either a great lottery pick up or could be an absolute disaster from day one. On one hand you can point to how there were zero teams that were willing to meet his price over the last year since he became a free agent. On the other hand, we could have a player who was recently offered $30 million dollars (over two years) and declined playing for a team that was in prime condition to win (and they won) the World Series.
Could this be Scott Boras' biggest blunder candidate? Considering he's now left nearly $150 million dollars on the table (over separate deals), is coming off a year completely away from the MLB, and is coming off a shoulder surgery (not his first) this could end up being a huge mistake for them as well. The way I see it, Conforto has and is willing to take a chance on himself in 2023. He's hoping to play well enough- as a budding 30 year old- to get a major payday going into 2024- as a budding 31 year old.
If I was a team, I'd be incredibly weary of him as an option. Especially if he is looking to command a major financial commitment. Maybe I'd be willing to give him an incentive-laden deal with massive paydays for different accolades. However, that deal would also have to come with a lower payment for this year...and I'm thinking no more than $15 million. If Conforto is willing to bet on himself, this is the type of deal he should theoretically be after.
$15,000,000 base pay with bonuses that drive it up for $25,000,000*
*$1,000,000 for each of these milestones being met:
145+ Games Played (or 90% of season)
30+ Home Runs
60+ Extra-Base Hits
Top-10 (or better) MVP finish
All-Star Game Roster
Gold Glove Nominee (+ $500K for Winner)
Silver Slugger Nominee (+ $500K for Winner)