Should the Mets retain struggling outfielder Michael Conforto for next year?

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The New York Mets had an extremely disappointing offense in 2021, and it was perhaps the biggest reason why the team vastly underperformed preseason expectations. They had a solid group of pitchers, they just couldn’t produce runs with any sort of consistency.

One of the Mets’ slumping stars in 2021 was, without a doubt, Michael Conforto. The slugger slashed .232/.344/.384 with a 106, slightly above average production thanks, mainly, to all the walks he took. While swinging the bat, he didn’t inflict too much damage, with 14 home runs in 125 games and 479 plate appearances.

It was an uncharacteristic down year for Conforto, a career .255/.356/.468 hitter with a 124 wRC+. He couldn’t replicate his 2019-2020 form, when he slashed .274/.376/.499 in 205 games combined.



It’s true that he had to endure a bad hamstring injury that took about a month of his season, but the Mets couldn’t enjoy production either before or after getting hurt.

Having considered all these factors, should the Mets bring back Conforto for 2022? How about long-term? It’s a tricky question, but the answer is yes.

The Mets would be wise to extend a qualifying offer

Conforto is still 28, so he should have a handful of good seasons left in his bat. He wasn’t good in 2021, but he has a long track record of success before that. Perhaps the injury was extremely problematic.

Maybe his mind had something to do with his slump, too. “When you’re thinking too much, you’re becoming too mental at the plate. You’re not supposed to think at the plate,” now former Mets Rojas said on Aug. 2. “You think outside the box. Outside the batter’s box, you’re thinking, you have your plan, you go in, and all your chips are in. That’s in. You step in there, you look for your pitch, and you just swing. I think he’s thinking too much at the plate, and that’s causing him to be in between. We want to brush that off.”

The Mets have the ability to offer him a qualifying offer, which is worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. Last year, the QO was $18.9 million.

The Mets should offer it, because if he takes it, they have a good, starting-caliber outfielder for a year and they give themselves a longer window to negotiate another deal, while closely monitoring his performance in 2022 before investing. If he declines the offer, they get a high draft pick in compensation.

The QO or a contract up to three years sounds like a good idea for the Mets. Any longer commitments are worth handling with care.3.032

 

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