Do Mariners Provide Homecoming for Michael Conforto?
By Trevor Pedro
The World Series is in the rear-view mirror, so it’s officially Jerry (Dipoto) and Justin (Hollander) season. What does that mean? Look for plenty of free agency and trade rumors with possible Seattle Mariner targets. We’ve written on a few of them these past few weeks (Xander Bogaerts, Kodai Senga, Josh Bell). One player in the Twitter timeline is former New York Met Michael Conforto.
Dipping into the NL East for Lefty Power with Michael Conforto
Maybe it’s the Northwest ties; he did star at Redmond High School or the fact that the team went on record about their outfield openings.
After suffering a torn labrum in a January workout, Conforto sat out last year but is now fully healthy. Agent Scott Boras recently ran the media circuit, and he told Joel Sherman from the New York Post he is positioning the 7-year veteran for a prove-it deal.
"“Michael is likely to sign a two-year deal with an opt-out after one season. Just like Carlos Rodon did in 2022, if he excels in 2023, he could opt out into the market next offseason. If not, he would have the protection of a second year.”"
With the pitching firmly in place, this is the offseason for offensive upgrades, and the former NL All-Star might just fit the Mariner’s plans. The lineup is right-hand heavy with AL Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodriguez, Ty France, Eugenio Suarez, Dylan Moore, Luis Torrens, and a healthy Tom Murphy returning. In addition, Conforto offers a solid lefty bat with a career of .255/.356/.468 slash line.
He isn’t the star that took the league by storm in 2019 by hammering 33 homers and 92 runs batted in, but he still might have something in the tank. Fangraphs Steamer projections expect Conforto to provide solid power (19 HRs) and be an average run producer (66 RBIs), but where he fits the Mariner mold is the 11% walk rate. Those numbers look awful familiar.
2022 – 14 homers – 53 RBI – 15% walk rate
2023* – 16 HR – 59 RBI – 12.6% walk rate
If I’m Dipoto and Hollander, I’d ask myself if Jesse Winker can rebound, and if so, I’d steer clear of Michael Conforto. An outfielder on the wrong side of 30 with multiple shoulder injuries and Scott Boras as his agent would push me into Team Winker.