Michael Conforto, LHB, OF, New York Mets
The second best position player who could move on the trade market this summer is New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto.
Conforto has emerged as a solid corner outfielder over the past several years. Conforto broke onto the scene in 2015, posting a 1.9 WAR in his debut season for the Mets. He struggled significantly the following year, but rebounded after 2016 by posting a WAR of 4.4 and 3.0 in 2017 and 2018. He’s been good for 1.6 WAR so far in 2019.
Almost all of Conforto’s value comes from his bat. He’s posted an OPS+ over 120 in all but one season that he’s been in the majors. He’s not a consistent contact hitter, as his .243 and .244 averages in the past two years show, but he draws a lot of walks and has a decent amount of power.
Conforto has posted a walk percentage above 10% in all but his rookie year in the big leagues. His walk percentage so far in 2019 is a career best 13.9%. His slugging percentage is .470 this year, above his .448 mark last year, but below his career best mark of .555 in 2017.
His offensive profile is similar to Travis Shaw‘s from last season. Conforto doesn’t hit the ball hard that often (he’s in the 27th percentile in exit velocity this year and 29th percentile in hard contact%), but he does have the ability to hit a good amount of home runs. He has 16 to his name so far this season, and had 27 and 28 in the previous two seasons.
He’s also demonstrated a solid feel for the strike zone. His strikeout rate is over 22% this season (22.9%), but that’s quite a bit better than it was in his previous three seasons (he was over 25% in each of the past three seasons). He rarely chases pitches out of the zone too (25.2% in 2019).
Defensively, Conforto is limited to the corners of the outfield. His best position is in left field where his lack of range and slightly below average arm play best, but he can at least be passable in right field as well. He’s about a league average defender for the corners of the outfield.
Conforto isn’t a clean fit with the Milwaukee Brewers given that they have Ryan Braun and Yelich in the corners of the outfield. However, if the Brewers are looking for a decent power bat to add to their depth, he might make some sense. After all, he is just 26 and under contract through 2021. He could be a potential long-term replacement to take Braun’s spot in left field.
There’s still untapped potential left in his bat. Conforto could be a great fit in a hitter-friendly home like Miller Park. Just don’t bet on New York moving off of him this summer.