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WASHINGTON — “As is the custom when the season begins, [we are] focusing on the performance of the players,” Scott Boras wrote in a text message to The Post on Sunday in response to a question about Michael Conforto, further cementing the unlikelihood of his client signing an extension with the Mets before he reaches free agency in November.
If I ran the Mets, there’s fewer players I’d like to lock up for the foreseeable future than Conforto, the homegrown All-Star who has never represented the organization in anything besides an exemplary manner.
Also if I ran the Mets? There are fewer players whose uncertain future would cause me less concern about the present. Whereas an unresolved Francisco Lindor situation could have hung over this club like the Sword of Damocles, Conforto figures to quietly soldier onward.
“Right now I’m focused on the Mets,” Conforto said Sunday, after the team concluded a workout at Nationals Park. “I wish you guys were asking me about a situation that I didn’t come through in a game that we came out and won. I wish we were talking about baseball.”
Baseball finally will greet the Mets on Monday night, four days later than scheduled, when they intend to open their 2021 season against the 3-0 Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. They spent the weekend in the nation’s capital staying loose after the Nationals, their first slated opponent, experienced a COVID outbreak.
Lindor, 27, will make his Mets debut with a 10-year, $341 million contract set to begin next season, his destiny settled following some serious drama. Conforto will kick off his seventh year in a Mets uniform, his eighth in the organization, with his destiny up in the air. For better or worse, Steve Cohen clearly tabbed Lindor, once the team acquired him from the Indians in January, as his “I’m not the Wilpons” flag to plant on Planet Mets.
Conforto, 28, expressed only happiness for his new teammate, opining, “I think he got what he deserved. I think it’s good for the game.”
He added, “Obviously everybody knows that Steve Cohen is a wealthy guy. He’s a wealthy Mets fan. But I think he was pretty clear that he wasn’t going to be throwing around money carelessly. He was going to trust in his guys that he hired to make the baseball decisions.”
Fortunately for Conforto, you’d think, Sandy Alderson oversees the baseball decisions as team president; as general manager, Alderson approved the selection of Conforto 10th overall in the 2014 amateur draft. No, that didn’t lead to finding much common ground at the moment, although Boras is more comfortable than most of his brethren taking his players into the open market.
“I guess I could see the team looking a lot different over the next couple of years and I have thought about that,” Conforto said, although the position-playing corps could be pretty intact if Conforto stays.
He has proven pretty darn consistent the prior four years, his OPS+ swaying between 122 (in 2018) and 153 (last year) and his games played registering at 90 percent and above each of the prior three seasons. The natural if imperfect comparison, based on the current market, would be George Springer, who received $150 million over six years from the Blue Jays as a better hitter at a more important defensive position. However, Conforto is three and a half years younger than Springer, doesn’t have the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal on his record and has established his Big Apple and Mets bona fides.
“He’s one of our natural leaders here,” Luis Rojas said of Conforto. “He’s a guy that bleeds blue and orange. He cares so much about the team.”
Conforto dropped some news on his Zoom audience when he disclosed that he caught the coronavirus shortly before spring training. He registered a blah spring training statistically and you hope no effects linger from the disease.
Besides that, if you’re the Mets? Enjoy this latest episode of this show with the knowledge that, if he clocks a typical Conforto year, you can afford to outbid anyone for his services. And if he clocks a typical Conforto year? You probably should do just that.
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