MLB Rumors: Michael Conforto Drawing Interest from Mariners, More in Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 03: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 03, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners have shown interest in free-agent outfielder Michael Conforto, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

The Athletic's Will Sammon reported on Nov. 9 the New York Mets might be open to reuniting with Conforto, who spent his first seven seasons with the team.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post listed the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs as having weighed a move as well.

The 29-year-old missed the entire 2022 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. His value had already taken a hit before that following a down year in 2021. He had 14 home runs, 55 RBI and a .232/.344/.384 slash line to go along with a 100 OPS+, per Baseball Reference.

Assuming he takes a short-term contract to leave himself free to collect a bigger payday in 2024 or 2025, Conforto would be a worthwhile gamble this offseason. Between 2015 and '20, he had an .843 OPS and a 128 OPS+, so a team might be getting an impact hitter at a fraction of the cost.

The Mariners are well positioned to take just such a risk.

Seattle will have reigning American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez patrolling center field, and it already acquired Teoscar Hernández to be the everyday right fielder. Assuming he rebounds at the plate, Conforto would be a clear upgrade over Jarred Kelenic.

Since he's still only 23, it might be too early to write Kelenic off altogether, but a .168 average and a .338 slugging percentage illustrate how much he has struggled through his first two seasons.

After winning 90 games and ending their lengthy playoff drought, the Mariners will want to keep making progress in 2023. Whether it's Conforto or another option, finding a veteran outfielder to take Kelenic's place in the lineup is an obvious way to fortify the offense for that pursuit.