NEW YORK-- The door might not be shut on the possibility of pending free agent Michael Conforto returning to the Mets next season.
Conforto, who has spent his entire seven-year big-league career with the Mets, spoke to reporters prior to his team's game with the Cardinals on Tuesday evening, and of course, was asked about his time in Queens potentially coming to a close after the regular season ends in the next 17 games.
"I definitely have thought about it, [but] I mean, the options are wide open. It very well could not be the end of my time here," Conforto said. "It may be, but it very well couldn't be. I grew up here, I learned a lot here, my [entire] professional career was here."
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Conforto hasn't had the campaign he had hoped for, slashing just .226/.344/.376 with a .719 OPS, 12 home runs and 46 RBIs.
He also missed five weeks in the first-half of the year with a hamstring strain. Conforto's disappointing performance has opened up the possibility of the Mets retaining him on a one-year qualifying offer, which means he would stick around for an additional season to build his value back up, before re-entering free agency in 2023.
"It’s too early to speak on that," Conforto said of possibly accepting the one-year qualifying offer. "We’ll see what happens at the end of the year.
"I’m just focused on finishing the season strong with my teammates, hopefully not in early October. We want to make that postseason push. And then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there."
On the bright side, the 28-year-old has shown signs of coming out of his season-long slump as of late, with a .268/.369/.446 slash line, three homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games. Per Conforto, this is due to his improved approach, which has helped him simplify things and bring along his mechanics.
"Sometimes, being up there guessing can make it hard to do damage," said Conforto. "For me, I'm trying to build on the things I've done in the last couple of months....Right now, I'm just trying to put together good at-bats to help the team win.
"I feel ready to hit, It's something that I've focused on to put together quality at-bats," he said. "I feel like I've been able to do that for the most part. There's been some at-bats where I haven't done what I wanted to, but after that's over, I'm ready to step back in and be ready for the next pitch."
But as Conforto said, thinking about his contract situation hasn't affected his performance. His struggles were more so about his lack of readiness to hit, as opposed to a mechanical issue, or worrying about free agency.
I’m trying to build upon the things that I’ve done the last couple months," he said. "I believe I’m just getting started in my career. No matter what next season looks like, whether or not it’s what I wanted it to be when I started this season, I’m just getting started."
Conforto invited five pediatric cancer patients and their families from the Cohen Children's Medical Center to Citi Field for tonight's game as a part of the Conforto Cares program, which is dedicated to children affected by cancer.
Conforto, who started this program in August of 2017, was sporting a custom-made t-shirt for his foundation that a few girls from the hospital designed for him. He also discussed what it means to be able to host these families and give them a special day, given what they have gone through.
"It's just a special day for me with these families just to get away from the tough times that they are having right now and just enjoy their time at the ballpark by putting some smiles on their faces and having fun, so it's special for me and special for them."
According to Conforto, he has spent the past few years going around to hospitals to bring kids shirts and signed items. He also takes the time to sit down and talk with them in order to give them a break from the tough times they are having.
For Conforto, this cause truly hits home, as it is something his family has dealt with in the past. Now, he is doing his part to give back and show those in-need that he cares about them and their fight.