Despite having shoulder surgery last month, free agent outfielder Michael Conforto could sign a team after the 2022 MLB Draft in July, agent Scott Boras told the New York Post. "No team will sign Michael before (the draft)," Boras said, adding several clubs have inquired in recent weeks.
Conforto, 29, rejected the qualifying offer this past offseason and is tied to draft pick compensation. That goes away after the draft and there is precedent for a qualified free agent waiting until after the draft to sign. In 2019, Craig Kimbrel signed with the Cubs and Dallas Keuchel signed with the Braves after the draft, after the compensation rules hurt their market in the offseason.
"He's clearly going to have the ability to examine the situation (of signing before the offseason)," Boras told the New York Post. "It's kind of a unique thing. Because Michael Conforto is a free agent months before anyone else, he will be out there and clubs can calibrate on Michael Conforto before any other (free agents)."
It goes without saying teams will scrutinize Conforto's medicals before signing him. He suffered the injury during an offseason workout and the surgery was to his right shoulder, his front shoulder when hitting as a lefty. The front shoulder is the power shoulder and hitters who have front shoulder surgery often need time to fully regain their power stroke.
Signing after the draft would allow Conforto to showcase himself heading into the offseason and potentially improve his market as a free agent. There is no shortage of contenders in need of a corner outfield bat. Here are the clubs that have received the worst production from right and left fields combined, ostensibly making them candidates to sign Conforto:Red Sox: .572 OPSAthletics: .579 OPSBlue Jays: .584 OPSMariners: .597 OPSPadres: .598 OPS
Last season Conforto authored a .232/.344/.384 batting line with 14 home runs in 125 games around a hamstring injury with the Mets. From 2017-20, he was one of the most productive hitters in the game, hitting .265/.369/.495 and averaging 34 home runs per 162 games played.
The 2022 MLB draft will take place during the All-Star break (July 17-19). After that, Conforto will be free from draft pick compensation.