Michael Conforto was back hitting third Wednesday night, and the Mets scored yet another run towards the Braves (seven) than they’d in their earlier 4 video games and greater than in any sport in two weeks.
That owed a lot to ineffective Atlanta starter Kyle Wright. But the Mets are extra proper when their most achieved lefty bat is in a major slot. He returned, with two hits and a stroll, to a crew that, despite leading the NL East, remains to be averaging the majors’ second-fewest runs per sport.
So the perfect marriage for this participant and membership is that Conforto hit like he did whereas starring in the abbreviated 2020 season for the roughly half a schedule that continues to be in 2021, pushing the Mets to a division title and himself to free-agent riches.
As Conforto stated, “I won’t lie that I don’t think about those things, but it kind of goes with what I was saying about the rehab [from a hamstring injury that cost him five weeks]: The only productive way to go is forward. To linger on the injury doesn’t help me, so I’m just going to keep moving forward and stick to the mentality of helping the team win, and at the end of the year we’ll see where we’re at, but I’ll be happy if we are playing in October and making a deep push and hopefully winning the World Series.”
Conforto will not be the one Met who individually has a lot at stake with free agency approaching. But with the Mets having taken care of Francisco Lindor by way of a 10-year, $341 million pact earlier than the shortstop’s stroll 12 months, Conforto tasks to the most important payday out there of the Mets’ free-agents-to-be.
Think of George Springer’s six-year, $150 million deal final offseason with Toronto as a benchmark. Springer had barely higher stats from 2017-20 than Conforto, plus he had the flexibility to play middle subject and is traditionally an elite postseason performer. Conforto, although, can be free following his age-28 season; Springer was age-30. I’m undecided the Yanks need to play in this enviornment, however his lefty bat could be extra worthwhile to them in left subject than the Mets in proper subject in 2022.
The subsequent greatest walk-year lefty outfield bat belongs to Kyle Schwarber. The other greatest outfielders — Mark Canha and Starling Marte — each will play at 33 subsequent 12 months, however they’ve center-field abilities. If you pooh-pooh Canha, know that of the 80 gamers who’ve batted no less than 1,000 instances since 2019, the Oakland righty’s 140 OPS-plus was fifth in the majors.
Despite a gradual begin adopted not lengthy after by the hamstring damage, Conforto nonetheless has sufficient time to fortify his free-agent case. As for the other key walk-year Mets:
He and San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman had been the one gamers to just accept the $18.9 million qualifying supply final offseason. Both basically gambled on themselves reasonably than making an attempt to grind out a passable long-term deal in a decent market. They are successful that wager.
Gausman truly leads the majors in Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement. He, like Stroman, is doing this in his age-30 season. That he’s doing this with extra strikeout energy is setting Gausman other than Stroman in a market that in any other case can be populated on the prime by older stars: Think Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, plus Johnny Cueto, Lance Lynn and Charlie Morton.
Stroman is coping with a hip challenge that might not cost him any starts. Dallas Keuchel, an athletic lefty ground-ball machine, signed a three-year, $55.5 million pact following his age-31 marketing campaign. I’d assume Stroman — an athletic, righty ground-ball machine — will shoot for at least 4 years on the similar common, so about $74 million complete — although I’d suspect the objective can be 5 years at $100 million-plus, particularly if Stroman’s second half appears to be like like his robust first.
Not pitching the previous two seasons and being good however not nice in 2019 hurts. He had Tommy John surgical procedure then had his rehab stopped with elbow irritation. Can he come again for, say, the ultimate 4-5 weeks and playoffs (be optimistic, Mets followers) to persuade the group to make him the qualifying supply? Syndergaard, who would pitch at 29 in 2022, might attempt to re-establish himself for an even bigger payday, a la Stroman.
Drew Smyly, with extra age and fewer observe report than Syndergaard, made 5 robust late-season begins for the Giants final 12 months and seduced Atlanta to provide him a one-year, $11 million pact. It appears like a late-arriving however efficient Syndergaard might beat that.
Kevin Pillar/Jonathan Villar
Pillar has a $2.9 million 2022 participant possibility and will take that to keep away from being caught in a slow-moving market once more. Pillar lacks above-average stats, however his toughness has helped the Mets’ culture, and he has proven he can nonetheless deal with middle subject as a righty-hitting fourth outfielder.
Villar’s been energetic, a well timed hitter and dealt with third capably when the Mets had few other alternate options. A second half of extra of the identical from the change hitter ought to set him as a fascinating piece in free agency at a time when golf equipment yearn for versatile depth greater than ever.
Dellin Betances/Jeurys Familia/Aaron Loup
A bunch of veteran lefty relievers signed modest deals ($3 million or much less per 12 months) in the offseason. The greatest, up to now, has been the Cubs’ with Andrew Chafin. The second is Loup’s $3 million pact with the Mets. Familia is on the IL now, however his great things/unhealthy management combo possible means — wanting genius the remainder of the 12 months — he’ll full his three-year, $30 million pact and enter the one-year-at-a-time part of his profession.
Can Betances even get there? After his 2014-18 dominance, Betances has appeared in simply 17 video games with a 7.43 ERA the previous three seasons. Can he get again wholesome and do sufficient to even curiosity groups to take a danger this offseason?