Were Cubs scared off Michael Conforto by a shoulder injury?

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Up until this week, we’d all (wrongly) assumed the draft pick compensation attached to longtime Mets outfielder Michael Conforto was what was keeping him from signing in free agency. But now, we know that a shoulder injury stopped his market in its tracks – and may very well have been a factor in the Cubs standing on the sidelines when it came to the 29-year-old.

Let’s start by acknowledging that the draft pick compensation definitely didn’t help matters when it comes to lining up a match between Conforto and Chicago. Jed Hoyer loves his draft picks, and that’s truer than ever given his relentless quest to replenish a formerly depleted farm system.

That being said, shoulder injuries are serious – and we’ve seen what they can do to guys in recent years (remember Kris Bryant and David Bote’s battles with them?) If a guy’s shoulder isn’t right, you often see swings get totally twisted and out of whack – and a subsequent draining of power, to boot.

So based on what Scott Boras told Joel Sherman, it’s been the injury that’s scared off teams – and I can’t say I’m shocked. Hearing that his swing plane was affected would make me proceed very, very cautiously if I were running a big league club, despite the fact that I think, long-term, he’s got a lot to offer.

We spoke at length this winter about the Cubs’ complete lack of power from the left side. That never changed – while guys like Kyle Schwarber, who made perfect sense, went on to sign with other teams. Conforto made a lot of sense for many of the same reasons, despite coming off a disappointing 2021 season in which he batted just .232 – a 90-point drop over his 2020 showing.

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For now, Conforto is still out there. But I’d be floored if Hoyer pulled the trigger on him at this point. It felt like a pretty long shot even before the injury given the draft pick compensation. Throw in a shoulder injury on top of that? As bad as the Cubs need some thump in that outfield, especially from the left side, I’m happy taking a rain check here and letting the already crowded outfield picture play out.