NEW YORK — The New York Mets signed eight players to one-year contracts on Friday to avoid salary arbitration, including Francisco Lindor, outfielder Michael Conforto and first baseman Dominic Smith.

Lindor will earn $22.3 million and Conforto $12.25 million in his final years before becoming a potential free agent. In the first year, Smith accepted a $2.55 million settlement entitling him to arbitration.

Outfielder Brandon Nimmo ($4.7 million) and right-hander Edwin Diaz ($7 million), Seth Lugo ($2,925,000), Miguel Castro ($1,687,500) and Robert Gsellman ($1.3 million) also accepted one-year contracts.

Lindor’s contract is the fourth-largest one-year deal for an arbitration-eligible player, following Mookie Betts ($27 million with Boston last year), Nolan Arenado ($26 million with Colorado in 2019) and Josh Donaldson ($23 million with Toronto in 2018).


New York might have nine players in the refereeing business – tied with Pittsburgh for the most by a major league team. The only one who failed to reach an agreement to exchange proposed salaries by Friday’s deadline is third baseman and outfielder J.D. Davis.

In his first offer to arbitrate, Davis asked for $2,475,000 and the Mets offered him $2.1 million. The parties can still come to an agreement until a panel of three arbitrators hears the case online next month and determines the rules. The panel picks either number – it’s not in the middle.

After breaking through at home plate in 2019, Davis hit .247 with six homers, 19 RBIs and a .761 OPS in 56 games last season. He started the year in left field and then moved to a more comfortable spot at third base – although defense is not his calling card. With the exception of another key addition to the infield, the hot spot is where he thinks he belongs with the Mets again this year.

M. Davis, who will turn 28 in April, earned $219,431 on a pro-rated basis from his $592,463 salary last year.

Lindor was acquired by Cleveland last week with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in a successful company that has Mets fans excited. New York has gotten rid of young fielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario and two minor league players in a deal that showed the club is serious about paying the star players who will immediately struggle under new owner Steve Cohen.

The next step is to try to retain Lindor beyond this year. The four-time All-Star shortstop said he would not hesitate to sign a long-term contract with the Mets. He said he would not want to negotiate once spring training started.

Lindor, 27, went to work during the pandemic-shortened season. He batted .258 with eight homers, 27 RBIs and .750 PSOs, started all 60 games and earned just over $6.48 million on his $17.5 million salary.

Conforto, who will celebrate his 28th birthday in March, has been a constant and productive pillar at the heart of New York’s dangerous team. Last season, he broke a career record of .322 with nine homers, 31 RBIs and an OPS of .927 in 54 games. The right fielder also scored 40 points, played solid defense and was named to the second All-MLB team. He earned $2,962,963 of his $8 million salary.

In 2014, Conforto was awarded the 10th Draft by the Oregon State Mets and helped them enter the World Series the following season as a rookie. The 2017 All-Star could become a free agent after next season and will be represented by Scott Boras. With Cohen in place, the Mets said they were interested in talking to Conforto about a long-term contract – and he seemed open to the idea. But at this late stage of the game, it may be difficult to reach an agreement before it reaches the free market.

Smith, 25, had a huge breakout season during the shortened pandemic season, batting .316 with 10 home runs, 21 doubles, 42 RBIs and an OPS of .993 in 50 games. On his salary of $578,826, he earned $214,380.

Smith’s natural attitude is first base, leading to a potential sticking point with Mets slugger Pete Alonso. If the National League reaccepts the designated hitter, the problem is solved. Otherwise, Smith could see a lot of playing time on the left flank, where his weaknesses and inexperience are evident. Even the team’s president, Sandy Alderson, admitted it wouldn’t have been ideal.

In 55 games last season, Nimmo played 0.280 with an on-base percentage of 0.404 and an OPS of 0.888. He hit eight home runs and 18 RBIs. He has a keen eye for home plate, often beats the leadoff position and is tied for the regular New York center fielder’s spot unless the team gets a new one and moves Nimmo to left.

The sparkling and smiling Nimmo, who turned 28 in March, earned $805,556 on his $2,175,000 salary last year.

Raw Diaz was so unhappy in his first season with the Mets in 2019 that he lost his job as a farmhand and was ejected several times at Citi Field. He had a tough new start last year, but he rediscovered his bad fastball-slider combination that helped him lead the race with 57 stops as the 2018 All-Star in Seattle.

The right-hander finished the season 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and six saves in 26 appearances. He struck out 50 batters for 14 runs in the 25⅔ sleeves and resumed his role in the ninth. Perhaps most importantly, he managed just two home runs after dropping 15 in 58 sets the year before.

Diaz, who turns 27 in March, earned $1,888,889 on a pro-rated basis from his $5.1 million salary last season.

Last season, Lugo found itself in a rotation with injuries as the Mets needed help. The versatile right-hander is beloved as a beginner, but in recent years she has established herself as a utility player. He made 3-4 with a 5.15 ERA and three saves in 16 games, including seven starts.

Lugo, 31, the 34th pick from Centenary College in Louisiana, earned $740,741 on his $2 million salary last season. Until the Mets get their pitching staff together, it is unknown if Lugo is in the pen or in the rotation at the beginning of the season.

Castro was elected on the 31st. Acquired at a Baltimore store last August, he made the 1 and 2 with a 4.00 ERA in 10 appearances for the Mets. He was at 2-2 with an ERA of 4.01 and a stop, while totaling 26 walks and hitting 38 with 13 walks in the innings of 24⅔.

The 26-year-old right-hander, with a strong six-foot arm but fragile control, is expected to be part of New York’s rescue and preparedness corps this season. He is between the ages of 8 and 18, has an ERA of 4.29 and has made seven stops in six major championship seasons, earning $388,889 pro-rated to his $1.05 million salary in 2020.

Last year was a disaster for Gsellman, he injured his triceps and then broke a rib. The 27-year-old right-hander scored a 9.64 in just 14 sets with four starts and two relief appearances.

Gsellman earned $453,704 in relation to his salary of $1,225,000.


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