When the New York Mets completed the blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor, it came with the assumption that they would try to lock him up long-term. After all, teams don’t give up the kind of haul the Mets did for only one year of play. Now, just five days before Lindor’s self-imposed Opening Day deadline to work out an extension, things are coming down to the wire. Of course, he’s not the only one as Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard are hoping for extensions of their own. With several key updates in the last week, here is where the Mets contract extensions currently stand.
Keep on Smiling
In the short time he’s been a Met, Lindor has already lived up to his reputation. Mr. Smile has done it all this spring, mashing home runs and grinning from ear to ear the whole time. Mets fans obviously hope they can continue seeing both these sights for years to come, and at this point the odds look decent.
On Thursday, MLB insider John Heyman stated that the chances of a deal being completed are “better than 50/50.”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 26, 2021
As for the $300 million figure, reports already say that Lindor’s camp rejected an offer slightly below this last week. Currently, the last two mega deals given out to shortstops were the Padres’ 14-year, $340 million deal for Fernando Tatis Jr. and their 10-year, $300 million deal for Manny Machado. With Lindor arguably being better than both of them, an extension in the ballpark of 10-years, $320 million seems likely. The Mets have already said they are willing to go over $300 million, so there is hope in that regard.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that next year’s shortstop free agent class will be stacked. Headed up by Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story, each of them projects to earn well over $120 million. Correa in particular just turned down a massive underpay from the Houston Astros worth roughly $120 million for six years. What does this mean for Lindor? Basically, when at least one of these guys inevitably gets overpaid, the result is an even more lucrative deal for Lindor in free agency.
Needless to say, time is running out if the Mets want Lindor at reasonable price.
Months before Lindor was on any Mets fan’s mind, their top concern was extending Conforto. After a breakout 2019 led to an MVP-caliber 2020, Conforto’s stock has never been higher. Like Lindor, he also prefers to have a deal done by Opening Day. That said, Mike Puma from the New York Post confirms this isn’t a hard deadline.
Conforto was asked today about potentially negotiating with the Mets into the regular season: "Ideally, I would not like to do that," he said … Not as hard line as Lindor, who last week was unequivocal about an Opening Day deadline.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) March 21, 2021
Unfortunately, things aren’t looking as promising for the Mets on this front. While there’s at least some momentum in extending Lindor, there’s yet to be any positive news regarding Conforto. The most recent reports state that he rejected the Mets initial offer (details unknown) early last week.
Regarding payout, it’s likely that Conforto is seeking something in the range of George Springer‘s six-year, $150 million deal. Comparisons here are bit tricky, though, as Springer is by far the more successful of the two (27.5 bWAR, 2017 World Series MVP, three-time All-Star). He is, however, three years older and was outplayed by Conforto last year.
What could be the deciding factor here is Conforto’s agent, Scott Boras. To gain more lucrative contracts, Boras is infamous for taking most clients to free agency rather than sign extensions. This especially makes sense as the 2022 outfield free agent class is incredibly weak, with Conforto being the best member by far. While Conforto has made it clear that he would like to stay a Met, with Boras behind him this may not become a reality until after the season.
Return of the Ace
Lost between all the Lindor and Conforto talk has been Syndergaard’s own potential extension. While fellow pitcher Marcus Stroman has hinted that he’ll likely enter free agency at season’s end, Syndergaard has remained open to an extension. After missing 2020 recovering from Tommy John Surgery, 2021 is make or break for him. With no set deadline, how he performs this year will be the key to the Mets’ decision.
Syndergaard has a tough road ahead as he likely won’t be back until late June, early July. This gives him very little time to prove he’s made a full recovery and can still pitch like an ace. TJS is a tricky thing, and after experiencing the heartbreak of Matt Harvey‘s post-surgery career, the Mets may be hesitant to extend Syndergaard after only a couple months of quality pitching.
Salary-wise, there are two probable outcomes here. The high end projects to be in line with Zack Wheeler‘s five-year, $118 million deal. While he struggled with injury in the past (including TJS), Wheeler has since overcome these struggles and become one of the best pitchers baseball. On the lower end, the Mets could copy what the Houston Astros just did for Lance McCullers Jr. and offer Syndergaard a five-year, $85 million extension. McCullers is only a year younger, has similar career numbers and successfully came back from TJS last year before earning this contract.
All of this will be trivial, however, unless Syndergaard can stage a successful comeback.
Featured Image Courtesy of Mark Brown/Getty Images
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