Michael Conforto will wait to hear the prospective new owner’s plan before counting his money.
Steve Cohen’s “to do” list this offseason, should he receive the needed 23 votes from MLB owners to complete his $2.4 billion purchase of the Mets, will be lengthy, but among the top priorities might be Conforto, in the outfielder’s last winter before he can head to free agency.
In this abbreviated season, Conforto has been the Mets’ best all-around position player. He returned to the lineup Wednesday as the DH after missing two games with left hamstring discomfort, holding a .315/.380/.606 slash line with nine homers and 41 RBIs in a breakout season.
And he will be ready to listen if the Mets contact his agent, Scott Boras, this winter with a long-term proposal, as Conforto prepares to enter his final arbitration-eligible offseason.
“I love it here,” Conforto said before going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the Mets’ 8-5 loss to the Rays. “This is everything I know, and I have said it before. We’ll see what the future brings.”
Conforto said preliminary discussions were held with the club during the first spring training this year about a potential contract extension, but those talks were scuttled once camp shut down due to the pandemic. He said those talks never resumed.
With Cohen — and his estimated net worth of $14 billion — within the MLB owners’ vote of taking team control (perhaps as soon as next month), Conforto was asked if he’s optimistic a contract extension will be completed.
“I don’t know if it means directly anything to me at this point,” Conforto said. “I don’t know what the new ownership is going to come in and do. I’m just a baseball player, so I will leave those things to my agent and the people that know about that stuff.”
Boras, the game’s most prominent agent, has a history of taking his players to free agency, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for an extension to occur beforehand for a Boras client, with Stephen Strasburg serving as a prime example within the Mets’ own division.
Ultimately, it will depend on how much Cohen and the baseball operations staff, whether that includes general manager Brodie Van Wagenen or not, value the 27-year-old Conforto.
“Of course I’m aware of what’s going on and new ownership coming in and you definitely think about what kind of things are going to change and what this team is going to look like when we come back,” Conforto said. “But for right now until I have a better understanding of what that is going to look like, I am just focused on playing the game today and doing what I can to help the team win today. I don’t think I can really comment on anything hypothetical in the future.”
Conforto followed a strong 2017 season with two lesser years that opened the debate over whether his ceiling had been reached. This season’s consistency has raised the bar.
“I’m proud of some of the things I have been able to do this year for sure,” Conforto said. “I think it was a step in the right direction, but I am looking forward to doing it over a 162-game season. This year was good and I think I accomplished a lot of things I set out to do. The team goals weren’t met.”
“We still have a chance, but obviously we didn’t put ourselves in a great spot, so those things kind of all go together, so I am looking forward to building on some of the individual successes that I’ve had this year, but I play this game to win and I know all those guys do in there too, so that’s the most important thing for us.”
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