Latest on Conforto, Mets extension talks

December 16th, 2020

NEW YORK -- For years now, has openly discussed his desire to talk to the Mets about a long-term extension. The Mets, under new owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson, have also indicated a willingness to chat with the outfielder.

Both sides may need to wait just a bit longer. Conforto’s agent, Scott Boras, said Tuesday that he wouldn’t anticipate contract talks to start until the two sides begin arbitration negotiations, which typically don’t happen until early January.

“Normally, when you have a player who’s in arbitration, you kind of prepare for the obvious negotiation,” Boras said. “If there’s anything that Sandy or [general manager] Jared [Porter] want to do, they kind of let us know later in the process, so that’s something I have to leave with them.”

Whether a long-term deal comes to fruition remains to be seen. Conforto, who has one year remaining until he reaches free agency, is coming off arguably his best season as a big leaguer -- albeit in a far smaller sample than normal. He hit .322/.412/.927 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 54 games last season, establishing himself as one of the top hitters on a significantly improved offense.

“Everyone always says that Scott is a big free-agency guy and he’s a big fan of that, but Scott … is obviously going to give me the best advice that he feels he has for me as a player, and for my career,” Conforto said in February. “Ultimately, it’s my decision. I think it’s somewhat of a misconception about Scott and his clients. He wants what’s best for us. He’s going to give us his best advice. But at the end of the day, he’ll tell you, ‘It’s my client’s decision.’”

A recent study suggested that an extension for Conforto could cost the Mets roughly $115-125 million over six seasons, on top of any other roster upgrades they still plan to make. Already in their first offseason under Cohen, the Mets have committed a combined $56.1 million to reliever Trevor May and catcher James McCann. More big contracts could be coming as the Mets pursue upgrades in their rotation and outfield, likely shopping near the top of both markets.

But Conforto is a fan favorite, perhaps the best offensive player in Queens and a franchise cornerstone. Boras spoke about Conforto’s desire to play for a winning team, having done so just once in the past four seasons. Drawing upon his long history of food metaphors when discussing the Mets, he called Conforto “very encouraged” by the Mets’ leadership changes this offseason.

“It’s nice to have an ownership with big apples,” Boras said. “I think the Mets are now kind of shopping in that organic produce aisle where they’re looking for that special Melissa’s Met delicious apple. And I think this apple’s not going to have any worms in it, so Michael’s pretty excited about what’s going to happen with the New York Mets.”