If Steve Cohen does take over the Mets as expected, one of the new owner’s first priorities might be trying to lock up Michael Conforto to a long contract extension.
Conforto, who returned to the lineup as the designated hitter on Wednesday after missing two games with left hamstring tightness, is having the kind of season many projected when the Mets made him the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Conforto went into Wednesday batting .328 with nine home runs, 31 RBIs and a .944 OPS. He has become a fixture in rightfield, in the middle of the order and in the clubhouse, where he serves as the Mets’ de facto captain.
Conforto said he and his agent, Scott Boras, had a "really, really brief and preliminary chat" about an extension with the current owners in March before baseball shut down spring training because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conforto, 27, will be a free agent after the 2021 season. Boras clients don’t usually sign extensions before they hit free agency. But Conforto could be one, especially if Cohen and his deep pockets are approved by Major League Baseball’s owners as the man to buy the club from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
With the regular season ending Sunday and the Mets hanging onto slim postseason hopes, Conforto isn’t thinking about his contract status. That’s for another day.
But he was asked about it on Wednesday, so he said what he pretty much always says: That he’s open to being a Met for life.
"Of course," he said. "I love it here and this is everything I know. I’ve said it before. We’ll see what the future brings."
Mets fans are hoping the Cohen Era brings cash, lots of it, to be spent on both current and new players. Boras may be rubbing his hands together and grinning when he thinks about a guy worth $13 billion taking over the Mets, but Conforto said it’s not uppermost in his mind.
"I can’t really look beyond today, tomorrow, the games that we have left this year," Conforto said. "Of course, I’m aware of what’s going on and new ownership coming in. You definitely think about what kind of things they’re going to change, what this team’s going to look like when we come back.
"But for right now, until I have a better understanding of what that’s going to look like, I’m just focused on playing the game today and doing what I can to help the team win today. I don’t think I can really comment on anything hypothetical in the future . . . I don’t know if [the ownership change] means anything directly to me at this point. I don’t know what the new ownership is going to come in and do. I’m just a baseball player. I leave those things to my agent and to the people who know more about that stuff."
As for his hamstring, Conforto said "it’s terrible" to have been out for two games when his teammates are fighting an uphill battle for a playoff spot.
"I feel like I’ve tried to do everything I can to put my body in the best possible shape to play every day," he said. "But we took some extra precaution with the hamstring. It’s something that can linger, something that can really take a long time to get feeling better, so we took every precaution. At this point, I feel confident that I can go out there and actually help the team win and I feel pretty good at this point."
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