Mets outfielder Michael Conforto has not and will not play any winter ball this offseason.
Despite Terry Collins‘ (and probably most people’s) recommendation for him to play winter ball and get as many reps as possible, Conforto’s representatives are not allowing it because it poses a ‘financial risk,’ according to Adam Rubin on Twitter.
Juan Lagares is allowed by his agents to play in the winter because he is guaranteed money over the next few seasons, and is not in the position Conforto is in. While Lagares is guaranteed money through 2019 (with a team option for 2020), Conforto is going year to year with a low salary almost entirely dictated on his level of play. If he were to get injured in the offseason and lose playing time in 2017, for example, his 2018 salary would take a hit.
In 33 Triple-A games this past season, Conforto absolutely mashed at a .422/.483/.727 (1.209 OPS) clip with nine home runs, eight doubles, and two triples. According to Adam Rubin on Twitter, another reason he did not participate was that the level of play in winter ball is lower than the level of AAA.
Conforto hasn’t just been sitting around doing nothing, though. He has been conditioning all offseason and plans on entering spring training in the best shape of his life. He is hoping that his strides made at the end of last season regarding going the opposite way, as well as some extra muscle, will translate into more home run power. I am hoping for that as well.
The best thing for Michael Conforto is to get as many at-bats as possible against any pitcher not named Madison Bumgarner. We can expect him to get plenty of work during Spring Training, including some innings at first base, as the Mets look for Conforto to significantly bounce back in 2017.