The Nine

A Francisco Lindor contract with Mets could take awhile

The Mets rocked the baseball world and thrilled their fan base Thursday with the acquisition of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Indians in return for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario and minor leaguers Isaiah Greene and Josh Wolf. The earth-shaking transaction produced many questions. You have come to the right place for answers.

Q: We all know that Lindor can be a free agent after this season. What is the likelihood that the Mets sign him for the long term before he so much as plays in a regular-season game for them?

A: At this juncture, I’d handicap it at less than 50 percent. Lindor probably will want to see how he enjoys life as a Met before committing to it, and only a seismic offer from the Mets would change that.

Q: What would constitute a seismic offer?

A: Something that tops the 10-year, $300 million package that Manny Macahdo (right) landed with the Padres in February 2019. Machado landed that package entering his age-26 season. Lindor will be entering his age-28 season in 2022. As a side note, for luxury-tax reasons, expect Lindor and the Mets to resolve his 2021 salary (the ballpark estimate is $20 million) before working on a potential big deal.

Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor throws to first
Getty Images

Q: Well, the Mets just gave up two major league shortstops for Lindor, so this would be a fiasco if they didn’t retain him, no?

A: Not necessarily. Remember that next year’s free-agent crop features a banner group of shortstops, headlined by the Cubs’ Javier Baez, the Astros’ Carlos Correa and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager as well as Lindor. Furthermore, young shortstop Ronny Mauricio remains one of the Mets’ top minor leaguers. Mets president Sandy Alderson (far left) mentioned during Thursday’s news conference that the team could recoup a compensatory draft pick next winter if Lindor were to head elsewhere, although that’s not a guarantee given that a new Basic Agreement must be negotiated next winter.

Q: Lindor appears to be one of the game’s best players. Are there any potential weaknesses we should eye?

A: Here’s an interesting data point: Lindor has struggled greatly hitting with runners in scoring position the past two years. He posted a .202/.295/.312 slash line with RISP in 2019 and .167/.288/.300 last season.

Q: Yeesh. How does this trade impact the Mets’ infield composition?

A: Lindor’s arrival obviously eliminates any competition for the shortstop spot and puts a greater onus on J.D. Davis (right) to succeed at third base while Jeff McNeil patrols second base. Luis Guillorme now can get more infield reps without people blocking him.

Q: What about Carrasco’s arrival? Does that mean the Mets are done shopping for starting pitching?

A: In the high-end aisle, yes. The Mets now have a starting rotation featuring ace Jacob deGrom followed by Marcus Stroman, Carrasco, David Peterson and Steven Matz as well as Seth Lugo, who could either keep the gig he reclaimed in the middle of last season or switch back to the bullpen.

Q: Is it ironic that Alderson traded Greene and Wolf, two of Brodie Van Wagenen’s higher draft picks, in a trade that was universally acclaimed about two years after Van Wagnenen traded Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, two of Alderson’s higher draft picks (to Seattle for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz), in a trade that was universally panned?

A: Not sure if that qualifies as the technical definition of “irony,” but it’s something, all right.

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