Michael Conforto spent the first seven years of his career under the bright lights of Citi Field, dealing with all of the scrutiny that comes with playing for the Mets. In his time in New York, Conforto made an All-Star team (2017), smacked 132 home runs and hit .333 with two homers in his only World Series appearance as a 22-year-old in 2015. Despite initially becoming a free agent last winter, offseason shoulder surgery threw a wrench in the works, keeping him unsigned for the entirety of the 2022 season. Almost a year removed from that injury, Conforto will once again look to find a landing spot once the 2022-23 free agency season begins after the conclusion of the World Series.
Here’s what you need to know about Conforto:
Birthdate: March 1, 1993 (Age 30 in 2023)
Primary position: OF
Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 215 lbs.
Place of birth: Seattle
School(s): Redmond (Wash.) HS; Oregon State
Drafted: 1st round (10th), 2014, by Mets
MLB debut: July 24, 2015
Qualifying offer: Received one in '21; declined
STAT TO KNOW
From 2017 to 2021, Conforto's 308 walks ranked ninth among outfielders (minimum 200 games). In the same player pool, his on-base percentage (.364) ranks 12th, he hit the 15th-most home runs (111) and his 127 OPS+ was tied for 11th with Mitch Haniger.
Between a strained hamstring and some uncharacteristic struggles at the plate in 2021, Conforto did not exactly soar into free agency on a high note. The uncertainty surrounding him only increased when he failed to sign last winter, owing to offseason shoulder surgery. That procedure, performed in January 2022, kept him out for the entire season, and it remains to be seen how a year away will impact his ability to contribute in 2023.
Another significant shoulder injury may have cost him
The trajectory of Conforto's career might have been changed by a dislocated shoulder. Conforto seemed poised to become a permanent fixture in the Mets' lineup in 2017, hitting .279/.384/.555, amassing 27 home runs by the end of August and making his first career All-Star team. But on Aug. 24, Conforto suffered a freak injury, dislocating and tearing the posterior capsule in his left shoulder on a swing. The recovery took up the majority of his offseason, and he has since admitted he may not have been patient enough with his rehab process -- perhaps evidenced by how poorly his 2018 season started. His .216 first-half average seemed so out of character that the Mets even considered sending him back to Triple-A. While it didn't come to that, and he rebounded to hit .273 in the second half, it's hard not to consider where Conforto would have been without that setback.
He's made Little League World Series history
Former teammate Todd Frazier is perhaps the big leaguer best known for competing in the Little League World Series. But Conforto did, as well, appearing in the prestigious tournament with Redmond North Little League in 2004. He went to the College World Series in 2013, in his sophomore year at Oregon State. Two years after that, in 2015, Conforto was with the Mets when they won the National League pennant for the first time since 2000. While the end result wasn't what they'd hoped for -- New York fell to Kansas City in the World Series, 4-1 -- Conforto became just the third player (and first rookie) in baseball history to appear in all three tournaments, joining Ed Vosberg and Jason Varitek.
He has a unique athletic pedigree
Plenty of big leaguers were raised by athletes themselves -- just ask the Blue Jays, who field lineups with three second-generation players, the sons of incredibly successful Major Leaguers. Conforto's pedigree is much more unusual in baseball. While his father, Mike, was a linebacker at Penn State, his mother, Tracie, was an Olympic synchronized swimmer who took home two gold medals at the Los Angeles games in 1984 and a silver medal in Seoul in 1988.