The free agency market could serve as a welcoming period for outfielder Michael Conforto.
Conforto, 29, missed the entirety of the 2022 Major League Baseball season, recovering from shoulder surgery. Despite a year off the field, reports suggest the former 2017 All-Star should have no issue garnering interest from clubs. In fact, three American League teams — who all contended this past October in the postseason — were listed as potential suitors to sign Conforto for next season.
“I was told by a source yesterday (Monday) that Conforto is really back to full baseball activity, that the rehab portion of that shoulder surgery is effectively done,” MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on “MLB Hot Stove” on Tuesday. “So, he’d be considered as a fully healthy player for Spring Training. … A one-year deal for a still relatively young player is a really appealing way to do that (rebuild value) and then step out into the free agent market a year from now.
“… The (Seattle) Mariners are a team that is looking for one more outfield bat. They’ve traded Kyle Lewis. Of course, they brought in Teoscar Hernández. But they also lost Carlos Santana as the DH, so there’s actually some more room there for one more lefty bat. … (Brian) McTaggart has said that Conforto is actually of interest to the (Houston) Astros — interesting there. That maybe the Astros would consider splitting time and maybe have Yordan (Álvarez) in left with Conforto getting some DH time and vice versa. … There’s even been some talk in previous reports about the (New York) Yankees having interest right now.”
However, with AL home run champ Aaron Judge highlighting the 2022 class of free agents, Morosi acknowledged that the 30-year-old slugger could impact the market and interest for other free agent outfielders such as Conforto.
“Well probably wait to see on some of these key outfielders until after Aaron Judge signs,” Morosi said. “Certainly it’s not really the same marketplace for both of them, but I do think there’s at least an understanding where — for example — should Judge go to the (San Francisco) Giants, Conforto to the Yankees might have a bit more legs.”
In 2019, his last of just two 150-plus game seasons he has put together in his career, Conforto batted .257/.363/.494 while crushing 33 home runs and 29 doubles with 92 RBIs — all career-highs. That production took a dip in 2021, following a shortened COVID-19-impacted campaign in 2020, in which Conforto hit .232/.344/.384 with 14 homers through 125 games.