SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After finally hitting free agency, Michael Conforto had to wait 14 months to put pen to paper with a new team, and the timing of the agreement could not have been more awkward.
Conforto agreed to a two-year contract with the Giants at the end of a week in December that started with Carlos Correa failing his physical in San Francisco. Like Correa, Conforto is a Scott Boras client, and Boras and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi hammered out a contract for the outfielder as the agent was telling stories very publicly -- some of them untrue -- about his shortstop that made Zaidi and the Giants look bad.
It seemed like strange timing, but Conforto knew something that most on the outside didn't: This was a contract that was over a year in the making. An offseason before they chased Aaron Judge and Correa, the Giants were one of the first teams to contact Conforto, who ended up not signing anywhere for the 2022 MLB season and having shoulder surgery.
"They sent over a video of me in the Little League World Series, the College World Series, and then basically the message of the video was we want to be the ones to bring you back to the World Series," Conforto said on the latest "Giants Talk" podcast. "That was a really cool thing for me to see. The production team did a great job with that. I had a bit of an idea that they had their eyes on me, and that also played a part in where I ended up."
The Giants couldn't be happier about how it all turned out. Conforto might end up being the jewel of their offseason class, and thus far in camp, he has looked like he'll be the best position player on the roster. Conforto started in right field Thursday, taking an important step in his rehab, and also homered for the third consecutive game.
The power is to be expected for a 30-year-old who hit 88 homers for the New York Mets from 2017-19 and has a 124 OPS-plus in the big leagues. When healthy, Conforto has been one of the best hitters in the National League, the type who would be looking at a nine-figure deal in free agency.
The Giants consider that background and see a bargain in Conforto, who signed for two years and $36 million, with the ability to opt out after this season. Like Carlos Rodón a year before, the Giants are betting that Conforto will stay healthy enough to return to his All-Star form, and that's again where the December agreement became so fascinating.
On the same day that news broke about Correa failing his physical, Conforto held a workout for Giants hitting coach Justin Viele and trainer Dave Groeschner to prove he was healthy enough for his own contract. He said there was "kind of a weird elephant in the room that nobody really wanted to talk about," but the workout went well. Conforto felt things "just felt right" during his conversations with the Giants, even as the whole baseball world focused on a different free-agent chase.
"I think case to case, it's much different. It's two different scenarios," Conforto said. "From the outside, I could see where it looks odd because I'm coming off surgery, I missed a year, but the situation was completely different [than Correa's]. It's more of a short-term deal that they're talking about with me. During that process, we were just starting to heat up with the Giants when everything was kind of coming to an end with the Correa thing."
The rest of the Giants' offseason would have looked different had Correa passed his physical, but the plan all along was to add two starting outfielders in free agency, and Conforto always was front and center for Zaidi and the front office. A year after they first started recruiting him, the Giants got their guy.
For Conforto, the deal provided an opportunity to get pretty close to a homecoming. He's a Seattle native who went to Oregon State and now lives in Scottsdale, so the interest was mutual when he hit free agency after the 2021 season, his seventh with the Mets.
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Conforto had to wait longer than expected to sign, but he found a silver lining in a summer spent rehabbing. He got married a month into free agency and said he tried to soak up as much time with his wife and two dogs as he could.
"We tried to extract every bit of positivity we could throughout that tough summer, but you miss the game, you miss those competitive juices," he said on "Giants Talk." "So it was tough, but I can't say it was all bad because I ended up here, and so far, it's been one of the best decisions we've made."