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Michael Conforto could be playing final games in Mets uniform

The next 16 games will decide the Mets’ fate, whether they squeeze into the postseason or miss it for the fifth consecutive year, but it’s Michael Conforto who has more at stake than anyone. 

Depending on how the remainder of the season goes, Conforto could be just three weeks away from becoming a free agent for the first time in his career — and his walk year certainly hasn’t gone as he hoped.

Through Aug. 5, Conforto was batting .199 with a .653 OPS. Since then, Conforto has hit .280 with an .854 OPS in 36 games heading into Tuesday’s 7-6, 11-inning loss to the Cardinals at Citi Field. The 28-year-old may have been able to turn a corner by the end of August, despite the team’s catastrophic collapse, but his overall offensive struggles this season have cast a shadow of uncertainty over his future in Flushing.

“I definitely have thought about it,” said Conforto, who invited five patients and their families from Cohen Children’s Medical Center to Tuesday’s game as part of his Conforto Cares program, which was created in 2017 in honor of his mom’s little sister, who passed away from pediatric cancer.

Michael Conforto
Corey Sipkin for the Gist Vile

“But, I mean, the options are wide open. [It] very well could not be the end of my time here, you know, it may be, but it very well could not be. I will say, I grew up here, I learned a lot here, my professional career was here. I’m just focused on finishing the season strong with my teammates, hopefully not in early October. We want to make that postseason push. And then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Though Conforto, who lost a large chunk of his season because of a hamstring injury, has looked better at the plate lately. In his past eight appearances, the outfielder was 9-for-30 (.300) with one homer and five RBIs.

In the loss, Conforto blooped an RBI single in the first to help build the Mets’ early 2-0 lead before hitting a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth to score starting pitcher Marcus Stroman and make it a 3-2 game. He also worked a walk in the third.

Considering the Mets fell to four games behind the Cardinals in the NL wild-card race following Tuesday’s loss, management likely will have to make the difficult decision regarding Conforto’s future sooner rather than later.

Michael Conforto hitting during the Subway Series.
Michael Conforto hitting during the Subway Series.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

Both Conforto and pitcher Noah Syndergaard are eligible for the one-year qualifying offer that will be around $20 million. It’s unlikely the Mets would be willing to submit the offer to Syndergaard, who is scheduled to throw live batting practice Wednesday as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery that has cost him the last two seasons. The righty would figure to accept the offer if it’s extended. 

Asked if he would accept a qualifying offer, should the Mets extend one to him, or weigh his options, Conforto said it was too early to say.

“I believe I’m just getting started in my career,” he said. “No matter what next season looks like, whether or not it’s what I wanted it to be when I started this season, I’m just getting started. I’ve learned a lot this year, and I’m hoping that we’re not going to be done in early October. That’s what I’m focused on.”

The season may not have gone according to his plan, but Conforto can certainly make these (potentially) final few games count.

via

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