The San Francisco Giants will pick up the pieces from their explosive reputation for a long time, but as sane players in the market who operate with Mr. Spock’s level of common sense competency, there’s still going to be a baseball season in which they play useful players to model their game. Former Mets player Michael Conforto fits the bill.
Despite missing all of 2022 after right shoulder surgery and a down year in 2021, the left-handed Conforto (who turns 30 on March 1) has a .255/.356/.468 streak (.824 OPS) over seven seasons. His 124 over that stretch was the 46th best in baseball, tied with Cody Bellinger and Trea Turner and ahead of Mitch Hanegger (123), Xander Bogaerts (121), and Mike Yastrzemski (120).
Now, can a player come out of shoulder surgery and be expected to return to that level from last season? Probably not, which is why the deal is for two years and $36 million, according to The Athletic (signup required). And what if it all worked out and he cut . 500 despite being a left-handed hitter at Oracle Park? Well, the Giants made sure to give it a go Withdraw.
Conforto was probably the best offensive option left in free agency. He doesn’t help out in midfield or outfield, but as a corner player, he supports the opposite side to Mitch Hanegger and pushes Yaz into center field, which wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing. Conforto ranks as an average player overall, but not a net negative, at least according to FanGraphs Defensive Runs (+1.4 runs across those seven seasons) and 72 percent for Statcast’s Outs Above Average. In fact, his statbox looks pretty good:
Whatever blues you may see with the multiplication scales, it could be the result of whatever hit the shoulder. Prior to 2021, he hit the ball hard more than once. In fact, much of the hit ball data prior to 2021 lines up nicely with Carlos Correa (so, that’s 2015-2020):
None of this makes up for the loss of Carlos Correa, but like Hanegger’s signing, he envisages – at least on paper – an improvement in the squad. At least a little bit. But as the Athletic Report notes:
Conforto has struggled with injuries during his seven seasons in the league, including a shoulder injury in 2017 and 2018 as well as hamstring problems last year.
Hypocrisy after injuries killed Korea deal? Not right. That’s a one-year deal if everything works out and a two-year deal if it doesn’t. Whoever signed Conforto took the same risks, and for the Giants, they’ve already had the centennial embarrassment of being out for the season, so why not? The risk is just the money.
Being also a client of Scott Boras shows that there are no hard feelings when it comes to money and that he can secure his client the perfect – or close to perfect – deal. $18 million would be the most Conforto has earned in a single season. And the move pushes the Giants over $200 million in commitments for 2023, so, well job Giants taking me on.
Now, in terms of future agents without big tickets, the calculus is going to be a little different. The Giants have shown they are willing to tinker with a player who has chosen to commit the rest of his career to the team. Conforto is looking forward to returning to its former glory in 2023 and moving to greener pastures. This is the Giants’ favorite score as well.
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