Michael Conforto is one of the better and more under-the-radar players on the MLB free-agent market. A career-long member of the New York Mets, Conforto looks poised to play elsewhere in 2022 given the team signed outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, as well as them inking Max Scherzer to an historic contract.
The 2021 MLB season wasn’t Conforto’s finest work, as he was underwhelming at the plate. At the same time, he has been a reliable and productive right fielder with legitimate power from the left side for the majority of his MLB career. Conforto, 28, is a safe bet to get back on track.
Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Michael Conforto.
3. Michael Conforto gives the Cleveland Guardians a boost
The Guardians are in a holding pattern. They have a competitive roster that’s looking to bounce back, but even at full force they need more oomph to make the American League Playoffs. Conforto would be a compelling addition to manager Terry Francona’s depth chart.
A prevalent issue for Cleveland is a lack of impact and/or consistent hitters. Jose Ramirez is an elite third baseman, and Franmil Reyes has overwhelming power. Outside of the two sluggers, though, consistency is few and far between for their roster. Conforto gives them a much-needed upgrade in the grass while making their offense a respectable force.
The Guardians have many players who field their positions well. Conforto adds to that strength while providing them with a player who can clear the bases. Cleveland has a lot of payroll flexibility, and Conforto would be a savvy investment on their part.
- Michael Conforto stats (2021): .232/.344/.384, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs across 406 at-bats
Furthermore, the two sides each have something to prove. Cleveland is out to win on its terms, which entails sticking with players the team have acquired in blockbuster trades. Meanwhile, Conforto is trying to get back to being one of the better corner outfielders in the sport.
All that being said, the factor that could get in the way of a Conforto-Guardians marriage is them preferring to roll with a healthy Josh Naylor in right field and giving the talent in the building the chance to improve.
2. Michael Conforto helps retool the Oakland Athletics
The Athletics lost Marte and Canha to the Mets, removing two outfielders from their 2021 depth chart. Conforto would partially fill the void of the aforementioned departures and add a veteran hitter to an offense that could be collectively young next season with the franchise supposedly looking to move several proven players within three years of free agency (Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea and others).
It’s fair to expect the A’s to be a respectable team in the AL even if they move players like Olson and Manaea. They’ve moved players who are nearing their prime for prospects and been a reputable ballclub for the better part of the last two decades. That said, they’re still going to need veteran complements to their homegrown players who get more at-bats.
Conforto would serve as one of the leaders and bedrock pieces of the A’s offense. He’d hit in the middle of the order, generating offense and moving runners across the basepaths. Serving as the team’s starting right fielder, Conforto would join a defensively sound outfield rotation that includes Ramon Laureano, Seth Brown, Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder.
- Michael Conforto contract prediction: two-year, $30 million deal
Sticking with the outfield corps, the common denominator with these players is their defensive versatility, which Conforto could add to. While a primary right fielder, Conforto has experience starting in both left and center field.
Conforto can help the A’s retool while creating a better market for himself the next time he hits free agency. What could stop the two sides from joining forces, however, is the A’s, a low payroll franchise, preferring to keep their payroll as low as possible given the looming MLB work stoppage. They could keep everything in-house in the short term.
1. Michael Conforto fills a void for the Milwaukee Brewers
A contender with a middle-of-the-pack offense just lost one of its best hitters in Avisail Garcia, who bolted the Brewers on Sunday night in favor of a four-year deal with the Miami Marlins. Conforto is an ideal replacement for the Brew Crew.
Milwaukee needs offense anywhere they can get it. Christian Yelich has become suspect, Lorenzo Cain has been up and down and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .163 last season. Manager Craig Counsell has had to grind out offensive production, particular in the outfield grass of late. Conforto fills a void for their operation while adding a plus defender to a defensively sound outfield.
Meanwhile, if he gets back to being a compact hitter, Conforto could potentially become the engine of the Brewers’ offense; that’s the upside in his theoretical arrival. They’re essentially signing up for the same player from a production standpoint in right with Conforto being roughly two years younger than Garcia and the former owning a career .824 OPS.
Conforto can rake. While Tyrone Taylor was a pleasant development down the stretch and they have depth, the reality is the Brewers’ offense continually isn’t enough to win the National League. By no means is Conforto ensuring a different postseason outcome. What he does do is give them the potential to be a more well-versed unit, especially if Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and Luis Urias build on their 2022 success.
Their pitching is great from top to bottom, whereas the offense can improve in multiple respects. Signing Michael Conforto is a way for the Brewers to improve their chronic weakness.