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Cubs free agent target: Michael Conforto

The Cubs need a lefthanded bat. Could this former Met be the guy?

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

We see all kinds of reports this year about free agent players linked to certain teams.

So I wanted to post a response to this report by Jon Heyman in the New York Post:

The Cubs are among teams considering Michael Conforto. He is seeking a deal for two years with an opt-out. They also are in contact with Christian Vazquez, among other catchers.

I covered Vázquez (along with Omar Narváez) a couple of weeks ago, so let’s have a look at Conforto.

Conforto missed all of 2022 after suffering a shoulder injury during last offseason’s lockout for which he had to have surgery in April. That makes his decision to turn down the Mets’ qualifying offer last year kind of a “Whoops” thing — he could have made $18.4 million in 2022 while spending the whole year on the injured list.

Although, according to this article Conforto was offered a two-year, $30 million deal by the Astros just before he’d have had to be added to their roster to qualify for the postseason. Obviously that didn’t happen and Houston won the World Series anyway.

Conforto might have been hurt in 2021, too, as his numbers were down significantly from the three previous seasons and he missed 37 games. He’s not really that good a defender but he did post a 3.6 bWAR season in 2019, his last 150+ game season (he played just 125 games in 2021). He plays mostly left and right field so he wouldn’t solve the Cubs’ center field problem, although he could certainly take quite a few swings as the Cubs’ DH.

Despite missing all of 2022, Fangraphs still lists Conforto as one of their top 50 free agents (listed at No. 30). Their estimate is for a one-year deal at about $12 million. Here’s what they say about Conforto:

The market for outfielders this winter is paper-thin, and assuming we don’t pretend that J.D. Martinez is anything other than a DH, you can make a strong case that Conforto is the fourth- or fifth-best outfielder available. He also no longer comes saddled with a qualifying offer, which would have been a rich price to pay for a team wanting to sign him to an incentive-laden one- or two-year contract. I still think Conforto will sign a fairly short-term deal, leaving him the chance to hit free agency again in a year or two, but there’s enough upside here that I think he’ll be able to make a real choice when picking his next employer.

I’d certainly consider some sort of incentive-laden deal, or a second-year option that vests if he plays a certain number of games, with a buyout. Before 2021 he had 118 career home runs and a .484 slugging percentage, and just as a comparison, another lefty slugger with whom we are all familiar had a .489 SLG with the Cubs before being traded (Anthony Rizzo).

The Cubs could use lefthanded power. It would appear that they have a choice between two oft-injured guys in Conforto and Cody Bellinger. Bellinger’s younger, but Conforto still isn’t “old” — he turns 30 in March.

What would you do?


Michael Conforto...

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a one-year deal similar to the one Fangraphs proposed
    (66 votes)
  • 6%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a one-year deal, but it will cost more than Fangraphs proposed
    (26 votes)
  • 23%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a deal for more than one year, but with incentives or a vesting option or something similar
    (95 votes)
  • 1%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, and I have a different idea than those above
    (8 votes)
  • 50%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (204 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (leave in comments(
    (6 votes)
405 votes total Vote Now