New York Daily News
Conforto talks continue as games go on
PHILADELPHIA — The Mets have left their contract extension talks with Michael Conforto completely open-ended. There’s no hard deadline, like there was with Francisco Lindor which led to their dramatic 11th hour agreement. And there’s no pressure to work out a deal before fans turn on both the player and the front office.
Conforto and his agent, Scott Boras, started contract extension discussions with the Mets during spring training last month. Conforto said on Sunday he’s choosing not to talk about the status of those negotiations, but Mets team president Sandy Alderson pulled the curtain back, slightly, on the talks.
“I would say our negotiations were brief, but cordial,” Alderson said Monday in a general debrief before the Mets’ Opening Day against the Phillies. “I do believe there’s room for continuing those conversations. And so I’m hopeful that the dialogue will continue, and we’ll see where we end up.”
Mets fans are more confident an extension with Conforto will work out after billionaire owner Steve Cohen put $341 million on the table for Lindor. Conforto, who was drafted by then-GM Alderson and the Mets in the first round of the 2014 draft, is seeking upwards of $200 million, per a source familiar with the negotiations.
But the homegrown right fielder isn’t the only Met in his walk year this season.
Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Conforto are all headed towards free agency after the 2021 season. Jacob deGrom can opt out of his current fiveyear, $137.5 million deal after the 2022 season. When Cohen was asked on Monday he has the appetite to extend all of them, the owner was noncommittal.
“That’s to be determined, right?” Cohen said. “Each situation is unique.”
On the topic of signing Conforto to a long-term deal, Cohen said he’d make the effort to speak to Boras. Before then, there’s uncertainty surrounding a fan-favorite with a .843 career OPS who has developed into one of the team’s core leaders.
“I plan to sit down with his agent at some point and discuss it,” Cohen said. “We like Michael. He’s been a terrific Met and we’ll see if we can get it done. This is a big moment for him too. He may want to explore his free agency. So we’ll see what happens.”
Alderson predicted the Mets will have to, at some point, let some club favorites go.
“In an ideal situation, you’d love to retain them all,” Alderson said. “I think the fact is that at some point down the line we’ll have to make some choices.”
DOM ON BENCH
The Mets, facing a lefty in the Phillies’ Matt Moore, plugged in Kevin Pillar as their leadoff hitter and kept one of their best bats in the lefty-hitting Dominic Smith on the bench. Mets manager Luis Rojas’ first opportunity to bat Smith for Pillar came in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, when Phillies skipper Joe Girardi took Moore out of the game. Instead, Rojas kept Pillar in and the centerfielder grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Rojas said he considered batting Smith in that spot, and said it was “too early” to burn his best defensive outfielders in Pillar and Albert Almora.
Alderson said on Monday the Mets have had conversations with Major League Baseball on their postponed opening weekend series against the Nationals after four Nats players tested positive for COVID-19. The Mets and Nationals have three games to make up, with plenty of chances and matchups throughout the season to do it.
The two teams face off again later this month, with the Nationals coming to Citi Field for a threegame series on April 23-25. The Mets are scheduled to head back to Washington D.C. for another three-game series June 18-20.