Chicago Cubs Rumors: Michael Conforto being considered
The Chicago Cubs have a need for offensive upgrades this offseason and that would be the reason why the team has been linked to each of the top-four free-agent shortstops as well as a handful of free-agent options at first base. While speaking with reporters at end of the Cubs' season last month, team president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer stressed that one of the signs of a good team was their ability to blow other teams out. The Cubs' offense did not have that capability last season and that is where the team seeks improvement this winter.
Along those lines, one name that has been added to the Cubs' rumor mill is free-agent outfielder Michael Conforto. Jon Heyman of The New York Post reported on Thursday night that the Cubs are one of the teams in on Conforto.
"The Cubs are among teams considering Michael Conforto. He is seeking a deal for two years with an opt-out. They also are in contact with Christian Vazquez, among other catchers. "- New York Post
After sitting out of the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season while recovering from shoulder surgery due to an injury suffered last offseason, Conforto is believed to be fully healthy. From 2017 through 2019, Conforto was a perennial 25+ home run hitter in a season as he had 27, 28, and 33 home runs respectively. Conforto's power regressed in 2021 as his ISO dropped nearly 80 points in comparison to his 2019 season and he only had 14 home runs.
If Conforto's shoulder is fully healthy and the Cubs believe he can restore some of the power that he showed during the 2019 season, then the former New York Mets' outfielder is a clear offensive fit for the Cubs.
Michael Conforto would give the Cubs offense but questions on defense.
The issue, however, is that Conforto is not a clear defensive fit for the Cubs. With Ian Happ fresh off a Gold Glove award in left field and Seiya Suzuki locked into the right field position for the Cubs, the team has a clear need for a center fielder. Ideally, a defensive-minded center fielder. Conforto would not fit under that profile considering he has not played center field since 2019 and offered a negative value at the position.
For the Cubs, at least, Conforto likely projects as the team's designated hitter but even that could prove to be tricky considering the team's plans for the first base position including the rise of Matt Mervis. One projection that the Cubs may have for Conforto is as a starting left fielder in games in which they are facing a right-handed pitcher. Under that scenario, Happ would shift over to center field for those games.