Mets acting general manager Zack Scott isn’t intimidated by a spring training that has as many off-field implications that it does on it.
While the Mets prepare for a 2021 season in which they are being deemed one of the favorites to contend for the National League pennant, Scott is faced with addressing the future of some of the team’s most notable stars — particularly shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Michael Conforto.
Both will be free agents following the 2021 season, which means Scott is expected to have a thin, five-week window to negotiate extensions for each of them before Opening Day, if he so chooses.
“Given that players tend to want to focus on the season, we want to respect it,” he said on Monday.
He made a hasty extension of Lindor a priority, adding “the sooner the better” it will be to begin talks.
Giving out an extension that could very well be in the 10-year, $300 million range can be seen as a risk, especially for a player that has yet to play a regular-season game for his current club. But that’s not stopping Scott.
“I think in general, that could be a challenge if you don’t know the player… but there has been nothing but great things said about him as a person and a player so there are no reservations there,” he said.
He was, however, a little more reserved when speaking on Conforto.
“We have some very talented players that are getting close to reaching free agency,” Scott said. “Any time that’s the case, any player we think can be a real impact player… we need to have those conversations… so we should definitely explore those.”
This is nothing new for Scott, who worked in the Boston Red Sox’s front office when they had to address the contract extensions of multiple players.
“It’s not that difficult to do,” Scott said. “I’ve been apart of those conversations before. We’ve been able to do it… I don’t think having multiple players and agents to talk about those sorts of things is a challenge.”
JD Davis’ future at third base
What is perceived to be a challenge, however, is manager Luis Rojas’ decision on who will start the bulk of the games at third base in 2021.
JD Davis was originally considered the go-to guy at the hot corner, but diminishing confidence in his defense — most notably from team president Sandy Alderson — has made the situation much murkier.
The Mets responded by signing utility infielder Jonathan Villar to provide defensive insurance, but Scott gave Davis a vote of confidence.
“JD Davis is a really strong player for our organization. We have some versatility with some of the other guys we brought in here so I feel really good about it,” he said. “It’s up to the manager [to make Davis the everyday third baseman], but I’d be comfortable with that.”