Mets extensions for Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor are reportedly underway. But overall, team strategy says get Mike, wait on Frankie.
In theory, the Mets can open the Steve Cohen vault to go all out in signing both to exorbitant contracts that would shake the rafters under MLB and its team owners.
But beyond the finances is an argument for the Mets to refrain from doing so, not in the interests of major league baseball but for the team itself.
Mets Extensions: Why Conforto And Not Lindor
Let’s begin with two illustrations that, put together, make a strong case for prioritizing Conforto over Lindor, solely in terms of Mets extensions before the 2021 season begins.
According to Spotrac, here are the top-rated outfielders in the Class of 2022 free-agent class:
Without argument, Michael Conforto, when cast with his aging peers, will be the most sought-after outfielder when the free-agent sweepstakes get underway in December.
In contrast, Spotrac’s depiction for 2022 shortstops eligible for free agency casts a wide neck of All-Stars, who, in a game of eeny meeny miny moe, suggests that no matter which way a team goes in choosing a player to pursue actively – they can’t lose.
The Conforto Scenario
Remembering that Conforto’s agent is Scott Boras, a man who routinely encourages his players to forego an extension in favor of entering the free market, here is a scenario in which Conforto is likely to be asking himself.
Do I (Conforto) want the opportunity to be the next David Wright, warmly regarded and one of the few Mets players to play his entire career wearing orange and blue?
Or, is the grass greener ($$) on the other side, and the hell with it? I’ll take the money because I’m “it” next year in the pool of outfielders, even if it means playing for another team somewhere in the vast North American continent?
Scott Boras encourages, but he doesn’t rule, and the final decision always rests with the player he represents.
Now from the Mets extension perspective, here is an excellent summary of Michael Conforto’s horizon by Anthony DiComo, from MLB:
More big contracts could be coming as the Mets pursue upgrades in their rotation and outfield, likely shopping near the top of both markets.Anthony DiComo - MLB
Again, it’s not a matter of money with the Mets. Instead, it’s more a battle deciding how to spend it (wisely). Steve Cohen did not become a multi-billionaire by making rash decisions with the money he has earned when it comes to his business ventures.
The Lindor Scenario
Although the balance tips in favor of Lindor settling nicely into the New York media spotlight, there is still the reality that he has yet to have an official at-bat wearing a Mets uniform.
Sensing the Mets extension urgency, Lindor has repeatedly said he will not engage in contract talks once the season is underway (now T-Minus twelve and counting).
Looking behind at the massive 14-year, $340 million contract signed by Fernando Tatis Jr., while looking ahead at the strength of the competition he will face on the open market, is that enough to push Lindor to accept a Mets extension offer?
Adding to the drama is Lindor’s self-professed claim as the “best shortstop in baseball today.” The funny thing is he might just be (that).
But from where the Mets stand regarding extensions, their best sense of what to do may very well be to go through the dance as though both sides are seriously considering an extension for Lindor while simultaneously going full-bore to haul in Michael Conforto.
Unless the Mets wish to find themselves in a situation where they compete against themselves, while some yet-to-be-named team swoops in to drive Conforto’s free-agency price up (and you know that will happen), then why not put an end to it all now?
Francisco Lindor is a better player than Michael Conforto. If not for the wealth of talent available in next year’s shortstop free-agency class, Lindor would be the Mets extension priority. Alas, that is the quandary of free-agency in MLB today…
Like Trevor Bauer, Manny Machado, Gerrit Cole, and a few others, some get to reap the rewards of being a rare gold nugget among a field of prospectors looking to cash in. In a smaller measure, Michael Conforto stands alone in the Class of 2002 outfield free agents.
Assuming the Mets wish to retain him, while given the fan appeal of Conforto and his ever-increasing presence in the Mets lock room – it behooves the Mets front office to extend the lasso rope in a player with a proven track record while playing for the Mets.
Mets Extensions: Sometimes, Caution Is The Better Part Of Valor
Sometimes, caution is the better part of valor. When it comes to Mets extension – a bird in the hand now (Conforto) is worth two in the bush, who can still be had if separated and targeted among the shortstops available come December.
In terms of strategy over the next ten to thirteen days, the matter of Mets extensions, even beyond the final 26 who make it to face the Nationals on Opening day, deserves to be where it is at the forefront of discussion today.
I’d take Mike (if I could) and wait on Frankie. What say you?
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