Conforto's focus on season, not extension

February 23rd, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Like Francisco Lindor, has yet to open extension talks with the Mets. When he does, he wants to be a central part of the process.

“I would imagine I’ll personally be involved with a lot of it,” Conforto said. “I’d like to be.”

That jibes with what Conforto has said in the past, that his agent, Scott Boras, works for him -- not the other way around. Boras has a long-standing reputation for advising his clients not to sign deals before free agency. But when asked about signing a long-term extension with the Mets, Conforto often notes that Boras’ ultimate goal is to make his clients happy.

If that means signing a contract before free agency, like fellow Boras client Stephen Strasburg did in 2016, so be it. The reality of this particular situation will become clear only once the two sides open talks.

“To be completely honest, I’ve been so focused on preparing myself for this season,” Conforto said, noting that he may ask about his experiences negotiating a new deal in 2019. “I can’t lie and say that I haven’t thought about it, but I’m trying to keep my focus where it needs to be, and that’s on this team. So that’s where we’re at.”

Conforto is coming off his best season, with a .322/.412/.515 slash line and nine home runs in 54 games. He said he did his best to replicate his 2019-20 offseason routine as he tries to maximize his contributions in his final year under team control. As for the extension stuff, he’ll worry about that soon enough.

“For now, it’s great for me to just come in and be able to get my feet wet, meet the guys, see everybody again,” he said. “A lot of my best friends are out here, so it’s just good to see them. It’s good to be back out on a baseball field and run around and work on our craft. For now, that stuff hasn’t started yet.”

What’s in a number?

may have just signed with the Mets, but he’s already a steward of franchise history. The newest member of New York’s rotation decided to wear uniform No. 99 rather than 00 because the latter was already owned by the team’s mascot, Mr. Met.

Shortly before signing, Walker celebrated his two-year, $20 million deal by uncorking a bottle of Seaver Vineyards, the label established by late Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

“I’m a huge wine guy,” Walker said. “The deal wasn’t official yet, but it was heading toward that way. I just thought it was fitting that night to open up a good bottle of wine, and what greater thing to do than open a bottle of Tom Seaver’s wine? Really good wine, by the way. I think it was a special night.”

Tough first assignment

deGrom kicked off the first day of live batting practice in Port St. Lucie, facing , and . As usual, players mostly used the opportunity to track pitches, though McNeil couldn’t resist taking a couple hacks off deGrom, who allowed no significant contact during the session.

According to manager Luis Rojas, deGrom was throwing 99 mph, “in midseason form.”

“It’s getting ridiculous,” Rojas said.

Familiar face

The Mets have hired former bench coach Dick Scott to a new position: coordinator of coaching development and instruction. Scott was the Mets’ bench coach from 2016-17, then left to spend three seasons in the Marlins’ front office.

Social media comings and goings

Owner Steve Cohen reactivated his Twitter account on Tuesday, less than a month after deleting it because he received personal threats.

“I’m heading down to spring training this weekend again,” Cohen tweeted. “You can feel the positive vibe amongst the players. LGM.”

Cohen’s return to the Twittersphere came a day after Alonso deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts. Alonso, who had spent little time on social media this offseason, is scheduled to speak to the mainstream media on Friday.

Bark twice if you’re in St. Lucie

Among team president Sandy Alderson’s most prominent offseason acquisitions? A golden retriever. During his first stint with the Mets, Alderson could often be spotted around the Spring Training complex with his golden, Buddy, walking alongside him. Buddy has since passed, so Alderson and his wife decided to buy a golden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That dog did not report to Clover Park with Mets pitchers, however; she stayed back with Alderson’s wife at their Florida home.