SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Conforto still figures “prominently” into the Mets’ plans, general manager Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday, when he hinted that 23-year-old could again see action in centerfield.
Conforto’s struggles in his second big league season got him pushed out of the outfield rotation. But even if the Mets re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, Alderson said Conforto may get some playing time in center, where he played six games in the big leagues last year.
“We were pleasantly surprised at how he adapted to that position,” Alderson said of Conforto, who profiles more as a corner outfielder. “He’s an outstanding athlete. While he may not have the classic centerfield profile, there’s been a lot of successful centerfielders who didn’t have the profile.”
Alderson drew a comparison to Dave Henderson, who manned centerfield for the A’s pennant-winning teams in the late ’80s. Alderson also left open the possibility of Conforto playing some first base in spring training.
After a roaring start in April, Conforto hit just .220 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs this season, which included stints in Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Mets intend to meet with representatives for Cespedes and Neil Walker at this week’s general manager’s meetings, though Alderson said those discussions have yet to take place.
Both Cespedes and Walker were given $17.2 million qualifying offers. While Cespedes is expected to decline it, Walker’s decision is not as straightforward since he’s coming off season-ending back surgery that could hamper his value.
Both sides have expressed mutual interest in discussing a long-term deal, with a meeting expected before Walker must decide on the qualifying offer on Monday.
“I don’t know if that will lead to a quick resolution or not but there will be conversations before he has to make a decision,” Alderson said.
Noah Syndergaard will not require offseason surgery to remove a small bone spur in his right elbow. “It’s not significant enough to deal with,” Alderson said . . . Tim Tebow is 6-for-41 (.146) in 12 Arizona Fall League games, though Alderson said he has shown signs of improvement. “His strikeout rate is not horrendous,” Alderson said. “He’s making decent contact and he’s getting better.”