Turns Out There's a Pretty Good Reason Why Michael Conforto Hasn't Signed Yet

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Turns Out There’s a Pretty Good Reason Why Michael Conforto Hasn’t Signed Yet

Chicago Cubs

Although he was coming off a down year, and although there are reasonable questions about whether he’ll bounce back in 2022, it’s been a little weird how little talk there’s been about outfield free agent Michael Conforto. Like, sure, I could talk myself into him being one of those guys where the qualifying offer (and draft pick compensation) really cramped his market, and has led to a massive delay in his signing. But it was really weird that there haven’t really even been any rumors about interested teams. Just radio silence ever since the lockout ended weeks ago.

Turns out, there was a reason for that silence, per his agent Scott Boras. Conforto got hurt during the lockout:

I mean, it certainly would track that, if Conforto suffered an injury in January and Boras knew that his client wouldn’t pass a physical in early March, we wouldn’t see much on the rumor mill. If you start thinking more deeply, it would also explain why he hasn’t signed yet, AND why it’s going to be really tough for him to get a perfect deal at this point.

Let me start by wondering whether the qualifying offer was always going to be an issue for Conforto. A lotta pundits felt he should’ve accepted it from the Mets back in the fall, and he really does not seem like the right kind of candidate for a short-term, pillow contract when he comes at the cost of draft pick compensation (that’s perhaps even more true now because of the injury). Instead, it seems like he’d have to find the right team that believes, at 29, he still has upside from here, and is willing to invest in a four-ish year deal. Then, the “cost” of the draft pick compensation would be spread over more years, so to speak.

The problem there – at least now – is this shoulder injury. That part about “arm strength” and “normal swing plane” … that would terrify me if I were an interested team trying to sign him to a longer-term, pricier deal. I’m not sure I’d want to do it without the ability to evaluate him back on the field for a while.

But, because of the draft pick compensation cost, I also wouldn’t really want to sign him to a short-term deal either.

So … this seems to be a real problem for Conforto, and a very clear explanation for the lack of rumors/signing. Will Conforto be able to prove he’s healthy enough for a team to risk a longer-term deal? Or will he have to wait all the way until after the draft in July to sign (after draft pick compensation drops off)? What a mess. Bummer for him.

For the Cubs, it’s already been reported that they value their draft pick compensation costs (high second round pick, large bonus pool chunk, and $500,000 in IFA bonus pool space) at about $20 million. So, in order to justify signing Conforto, they’d have to believe they were getting a deal THAT much underpriced. I don’t see it happening, even as I do like – well, did before the injury – Conforto as a nice bet over the next four years.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.