1. Michael Conforto
The last time baseball fans saw Michael Conforto, he was regressing to league-average (100 OPS+) in 125 games with the 2021 New York Mets. The following season, he lingered in free agency before succumbing to season-ending shoulder surgery in mid-April.
Conforto, a natural right fielder with a left-handed uppercut swing, will now get a second chance to prove himself away from Flushing on what should be a one-year deal. While he disappeared into the ether in 2021 and during his rehab, Conforto’s career featured solidly above-average offense annually prior to his recent backslide.
His breakout 2017 season resulted in an All-Star appearance and a 148 OPS+, but the seasons that followed weren’t quite so bad, either (122 and 127 OPS+ marks in 153 and 151 games in 2018 and 2019, 154 OPS+ mark in the bizarre 2020 season).
Conforto won’t approach that from Opening Day, and his defense at an unfamiliar position will likely be a step down from Brantley’s unimpressive profile. But the man can hit, and has hit every season of his career prior to the one that left a recent odd taste in fans’ mouths.
Imagine that uppercut taking aim at the porch, especially with the added motivation of reestablishing himself for another walk year? The price had better not be too hefty, because the fit is great.