Jacob deGrom received his big contract before this season, ensuring he will be the cornerstone of this Mets rotation deep into his 30s. It was a smart move by the organization and player to continue a marriage that had blossomed.
Study the Mets roster for the next player worthy of such a deal that would lock him up through his prime years and you stop at Michael Conforto, still only 26 years old and already one season into arbitration.
Team officials have used the term “core player” when discussing Conforto with me. It explains why the Mets wouldn’t put Conforto in a deal for J.T. Realmuto last winter and didn’t give thought to trading the outfielder heading into July 31, when their season appeared lost.
Conforto has rebounded from a sluggish first half by his standards. His 29 homers are a career high and he owns an .847 OPS for the season. In an outfield with multiple movable pieces, Conforto is the rock. And players of his ilk certainly don’t grow in the parking lot at Citi Field, especially when you consider the top 15 prospects or so in a depleted Mets farm system are all infielders and pitchers.
Maybe the Mets had a better version of Conforto in Jarred Kelenic, but that player isn’t returning, after general manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded the stud prospect to the Mariners last offseason as the headliner in the deal that netted Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. It’s a trade that looks worse for the Mets with each passing day.
Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith have all played outfield this season, but who knows how many will remain there and who among that group might be traded (though McNeil is virtually a lock to return). Another outfielder, Brandon Nimmo, had a chance this season to prove he was an everyday player but spent much of the year on the injured list.