Mariners Hot Stove Hype: Should M’s bring Michael Conforto home?
The MLB winter meetings are less than a week away, which should get the ball rolling on some answers to the few holes still left in the Mariners’ roster.
Two could be filled in one fell swoop, with Seattle in need of a left-handed bat, which can be addressed either in a corner outfielder or middle infielder. We went through a list of available lefty-hitting outfielders earlier this week on SeattleSports.com, and one of those names might jump out more than the others due to local ties.
That would be Michael Conforto, who is certainly an interesting option albeit one with a big question mark attached. And that would be for the reason that he spent the entire 2022 season as a free agent while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
A Redmond native who starred in college at Oregon State, Conforto has had some good years in the big leagues. The No. 10 overall pick by the Mets in 2014, he was an All-Star in 2017 and had three straight seasons with at least 27 home runs, including a stellar 2019 campaign in which he smacked 33 homers and posted a .257/.363/.494 slash line for an .856 OPS. He was even better in the 60-game 2020 season, slashing .322/.412/.515 for a .927 OPS with nine homers. Unfortunately he crashed down to earth in 2021 with a .232/.344/.384 slash with 14 homers in 125 games.
Conforto, who will turn 30 in March, is one of a few names on the open market to be connected to the Mariners in an insider report, with Jon Morosi, a MLB Network reporter and weekly guest on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, tweeting Monday that the team has shown interest.
Speaking of Wyman and Bob, on a recent installment of their Mariners Hot Stove Hype segment, they got some insight on Conforto from Tim Britton, the Mets beat writer for The Athletic. Interestingly enough, Britton mentioned that Mitch Haniger, who is currently a free agent after six years with Seattle, has been seen as a “right-handed Conforto.” With Seattle possibly in need of a Haniger replacement, getting a comparable player who hits from the other side of the plate would make a lot of sense, right?
“I think there is some intrigue around him because of success he had over a course of a few different seasons,” Britton said of Conforto. “It wasn’t always the most consistent tenure that he had with the Mets, but in general (he’s) a guy who you look up at the end of the season and his OPS+ is 125, 130, something like that. A guy who kind of has that all-fields approach, hits the ball the other way.”
Similar to Haniger, Conforto has settled in as a player who can approach the 30-homer mark when healthy but won’t maintain all that high of an average.
“(He) kind of got the power a little bit more later in his career. There was the thought when he came up that he’d be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs; he kind of became more of a .260 hitter who can hit 30,” Britton said.
THE METS HAVE THE LEAD!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/3ut0VH69PX
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 18, 2021
The local connection to the Mariners is something Britton said was acknowledged during Conforto’s time in New York, and he would certainly cost Seattle a lot less now to get than a few years ago.
“He had a really outstanding 2020 in the short season then had a rough 2021 platform year,” Britton said. “You throw the injury on top of that so his market, which a couple years ago looked like a $100 million market, is not there now. I’m expecting him to sign a one-year deal probably. … I know from covering the Mets, there was the thought that the Mariners would be all over him whatever he did hit free agency, maybe in a trade before then because of his roots out there. So (he) would be an intriguing fit for Seattle.”
You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Britton in the podcast at this link or in the player below.