Evaluating Michael Conforto’s free agent market after rejecting the qualifying offer

Michael Conforto
After rejecting the qualifying offer, Michael Conforto becomes a free agent. Photo from New York Post.

Michael Conforto’s free agency started in an unsurprising fashion. Superagent Scott Boras and his star pupil declined the New York Mets‘ qualifying offer of $18.4 million.

Conforto plays good outfield defense. Also, even if he struggled with COVID-19 and had a bit of a down year offensively in 2021, he’s young and talented enough to turn things around and get back to his old form.

Michael Conforto free agency 2021-22

“They all know who he is and they all know what happened to him early in 2021,” Boras said of Conforto’s struggles this season. “It was kind of unrelated to his ability. (…) “There are no teams coming to me suggesting that Michael is not going to get probably similar to what he would have gotten after the 2020 season.”

That’s why Conforto’s projected contract currently sits around six years and $144 million. Boras wants his client to get paid like the star he is, and the Mets’ lowballing offer wasn’t going to get it done. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best fits for him in free agency.

4. Mariners

Considering Conforto’s projected contract, chances are that he might have to settle for a non-contending team right now. And, among all the “non-contenders”, the Seattle Mariners look like the team with the brightest future, as they’re just one piece away from competing.

Moreover, the Mariners’ young team has more financial flexibility than most of their rivals. They can offer Conforto a number he just won’t be able to refuse. They need a star and have enough money to get one, so don’t be shocked if they make a run at Conforto.

3. Royals

The Kansas City Royals showed a strong determination to compete last season even despite not having a competitive roster. They look like one of the teams that will improve the most between seasons, and they’ve built a winning culture over the years.

Their infield will be very good for years to come with star prospect Bobby Witt Jr alongside Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez. Also, Salvador Pérez has shown no signs of slowing down. Their biggest hole is at the center of the outfield and they have enough money to make a run at Conforto.


2. White Sox

Among all of Conforto’s free agent fits, perhaps the Chicago White Sox make the most sense, at least from a baseball standpoint. We already know that they’re big contenders and have what it takes to beat every single team not named the Houston Astros, but they desperately crave help in the outfield.

Adam Eaton clearly didn’t provide many – or any – solutions for their never-ending woes and they’re not likely to be able to afford Nick Castellanos. Given Conforto’s projected contract, money could also be an issue here, but he’s expected to be a slightly cheaper option.

1. Mets

Even though Michael Conforto declined the Mets’ qualifying offer, that doesn’t mean that he’s looking forward to leaving the team he’s played for all these years. “The King of Queens” is still open to negotiating with the team and there should be more money around now that Noah Syndergaard is also gone.

The Mets don’t need to fix what’s broken. Their roster isn’t the problem, all they need is a new manager. They’ll be wise to try and run it back with the same guys they have and they just can’t afford to lose their best defensive player this offseason. Scott Boras will get what he wants, as always, and the Mets will keep their guy.

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