Conforto to undergo shoulder surgery

Conforto to undergo shoulder surgery

HOUSTON -- For months, outfielder Michael Conforto served as the brightest piece of an otherwise dreary Mets season, his All-Star campaign stoking optimism about the franchise's future. But Conforto's season ended last month in painful fashion, when he tore the posterior capsule in his left shoulder, also dislocating the shoulder swinging at a pitch.

The Mets announced Saturday that Conforto will undergo surgery next week to repair the torn capsule, putting the start of his 2018 campaign in jeopardy. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the procedure in Los Angeles.

Not until Conforto undergoes surgery will the Mets have a specific timetable on his return. But according to independent physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, surgeries of this nature typically prevent a player from returning for four to six months. Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said the surgery involves tightening the shoulder capsule to decrease the likelihood of further dislocations.

"It's certainly going to be months," Ricco said. "Until he has the surgery, I don't think we're going to be ready to put a time frame on it. But it's going to be considerable."

If the Mets do not believe Conforto will be ready for Spring Training, it will complicate an offseason plan that included him as a focal point. Still just 24, Conforto batted .279 with 27 home runs and a .939 OPS in 109 games this season, making his first All-Star team. The Mets have talked openly about using him as their everyday center fielder in 2018, potentially freeing them to acquire a corner outfielder such as Jay Bruce on the open market.

But if Conforto is not healthy, the Mets will need to acquire additional outfield depth -- perhaps even an everyday center fielder such as free agent Lorenzo Cain. Other than Yoenis Cespedes, whose season-ending right hamstring strain should be healed well in advance of Spring Training, the Mets have no healthy outfielders guaranteed starting jobs in 2018. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo will almost certainly play roles, and the Mets could offer arbitration to Norichika Aoki, whom they signed on Saturday. But those three profile more as backups.

Much, in that sense, depends on Conforto's recovery.

"We have some time to talk about that internally," Ricco said. "First thing's first, we'll get through the surgery, see what the doctors say. That certainly will play a role. But we have some time here before we head into full offseason mode."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.