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Giants Rumors: Former Mets OF Michael Conforto Agrees to 2-Year, $36M Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets hits an RBI double during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 17, 2021 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

After losing Carlos Correa earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants are hoping Michael Conforto can provide a spark for their lineup.

Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Conforto has agreed to a two-year, $36 million deal with the Giants.

ESPN's Buster Olney added the deal includes an opt-out after the 2023 season.

Conforto profiled as a solid bounce-back candidate in 2022 before he underwent offseason shoulder surgery. His agent, Scott Boras, indicated in May he might sign with a team following July's MLB draft, which would remove any draft-pick compensation from his deal.

Nobody chose to take Boras up on the opportunity.

Even before the shoulder injury, Conforto saw his value take a big hit. The 29-year-old picked a bad time to have one of the worst years of his career.

Unlike new teammate Francisco Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million deal, Conforto headed into Opening Day in 2021 without a new contract. New York Mets team president Sandy Alderson signaled the franchise's desire to keep the 2017 All-Star that March.

"We've had Conforto for many years," Alderson said, per the New York Post's Ken Davidoff. "He has not only become an excellent player, but also part of the leadership group within the clubhouse. He's represented the Mets for a long period of time and represented us well. I think if it's possible, we will make the effort to keep Michael with us."

He added the Mets weren't as aggressive as the Toronto Blue Jays in landing George Springer, who signed with Toronto for six years and $150 million, because a new deal for Conforto was part of the calculus.

Steve Gelbs @SteveGelbs

On George Springer, Sandy Alderson says it really came down to willing to go five years, but not six. He also adds, "had we signed Springer, probably less likely we'd be able to sign Conforto, for example."

MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reported in April 2021 that Conforto might look to sign for $200 million or more, eclipsing the total Springer received.

His performance ultimately didn't help his bargaining position with the Mets or any other team interested in his services.

In 125 games, Conforto had 14 home runs, 55 RBI and a .232/.344/.384 slash line. According to FanGraphs, his .322 weighted on-base average was 30 points lower than his career average (.352).

The Mets offense as a whole was a bit of mess and failed to live up to expectations. Hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater were both fired in the middle of the season.

Lindor saw his batting average slip all the way to .230. Dominic Smith slugged .525 and .616 in 2019 and 2020, respectively, before finishing with a .363 slugging percentage in 2021. Jeff McNeil saw his on-base percentage fall from .383 to .317. In short, Conforto wasn't the only one who struggled at the plate.

Prior to 2021, he was a consistent producer in New York's lineup, so that year may be a bit of an outlier. Per Baseball Savant, his .249 expected batting average was only fractionally worse than his career number (.251), while his expected slugging (.428) was a more pronounced drop from the .463 he has posted since 2015.

The shoulder injury is obviously a massive variable. He might have a clean bill of health now, but nobody can know for sure whether he'll rebound. He may never be the same player after the surgery.

As a short-term gamble, signing Conforto is a worthwhile risk for San Francisco because he was so good from 2017-20. His demand for $200 million looks laughable in retrospect, but his market value before the 2021 season arguably wasn't much below that.

The possible upside justifies the Giants' investment.

As much as this move could help San Francisco, there's no salvaging what has been a disastrous offseason for the franchise.

Carlos Rodón, the ace of the staff, signed with the New York Yankees. That came after Aaron Judged opted to re-sign with the Bronx Bombers having entertained overtures from the Giants. The final insult came as Correa left San Francisco at the altar and signed with the New York Mets instead.

Conforto could make a major difference for a team in need of outfield help, but it already feels like the 2023 season is a lost cause for the Giants.