Earlier in the offseason, the New York Mets were suitors for the services of free agent cheater George Springer, who later signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mets had been spending freely to build a contender for the 2021 World Series title but fell short in the competition for Springer. This development was disappointing to Mets fans, but it means the team will have additional flexibility to spend on extensions for new acquisition Francisco Lindor or homegrown star Michael Conforto. Conforto, in fact, has very similar career numbers to Springer, leading to the question of which player would make a better franchise cornerstone.
Let’s take a look! Below is a breakdown of the career numbers of the two All-Star outfielders.
Springer has been valued much higher compared to a replacement player thanks in part to his defense. He is also a much more highly decorated player, with a World Series MVP* trophy, two Silver Slugger Awards and three All-Star Team appearances. Conforto is a one-time All-Star.As you can see, these players have a very similar profile in terms of their batting statistics and offensive production. Springer has slightly better power numbers, averaging 35 home runs per 162 games and homering in 4.9% of all career plate appearances (MLB average – 3.0%). Conforto is averaging 30 home runs per 162 games and has gone yard in 4.7% of his career plate appearances (MLB average – 3.2%).
While Springer was considered one of the blue-chip free agents of the 2021 class, the Astros cheating scandal calls many of his career achievements into question. How much of his growth as a player can be attributed to discipline and development, and how much can be attributed to sign stealing? The Blue Jays believe he can be a leader for a up-and-coming squad. His ability to produce outside the Astros organization will be one of the storylines to watch for the 2021 season.
While I am not ashamed to admit to a bias against baseball cheaters, I would be more willing to bet on Conforto due to his age. He is heading into his final year under team control. The Mets could be able to sign him to an extension for more years at a similar price tag to the deal Springer signed with the Jays. Springer has had a better career, but I believe Conforto offers better long-term value. I would also like to see more teams reward homegrown talent with long-term extensions rather than trade stars away to perennial ring chasers like the Dodgers to shave the payroll of arbitration-eligible players.
Let’s end this discussion with some video.
Featured Image: George Springer, right fielder for the Houston Astros, at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ, USA 5-30-16 by Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com.