What Lindor blockbuster trade means for Giants going forward originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Giants need at least one more reliable arm for their rotation, a left-handed bat for the bench, and some more options for their bullpen. But the first thing they should have done after Thursday's blockbuster trade between the Mets and Indians was push for another year of an expanded postseason.
They have the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, perhaps the two deepest teams in the big leagues, in their own division, and the wild card path looks just about closed off in 2021, with the Braves and Francisco Lindor-led Mets emerging as twin powers in the NL East.
This is all on paper, and a lot can happen over 162 games, but just about everyone will go into the upcoming season predicting that four of the five NL postseason spots belong to those four. It's good to be in the NL Central right now, that's for sure.
Beyond that, the Lindor trade could have repercussions for the Giants down the line. The expectation around the game is that Lindor, dealt to the Mets along with Carlos Carrasco (we'll get to that in a moment), will soon pull a Mookie Betts and sign long-term in New York. Steve Cohen can make it happen without even feeling the financial hit, and Lindor, as good as he is, would be smart to avoid a crowded 2021 free-agent class that might include more star shortstops than any in history. The fact that the Mets included two young shortstops -- Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario -- in the deal is a pretty good indication of their next step.
It's hard to know how the Giants will feel about the shortstop position in 10 months. Brandon Crawford will be a free agent for the first time but Marco Luciano is on the way. The Giants believe he can stick at short, and if he does they can focus their attention elsewhere next offseason, when they finally will have cleared their books. But it would have been tempting to chase Lindor and find another spot for Luciano, something they still could do with others in the class.
Long term, this is just another example of the kind of trade the Giants will try and make themselves, and perhaps they shouldn't wait too much longer. The Indians were always expected to trade Lindor, but there was added urgency this offseason given the financial situation around the game. They shed more than $40 million in future commitments in this deal, including the $24 million still owed Carrasco, who is hardly a throw-in.
The right-hander had a 2.91 ERA in 2020 and has been one of the American League's most reliable right-handers for the last half-decade, but because this is how baseball operates in 2021, taking him on might not have added much to the prospect haul the Mets had to send out. The Indians are going cheap, and they didn't appear to get much in return for their biggest star and a former Cy Young candidate.
Rosario, 25, is a former top prospect who has been worth just 2.3 WAR in the big leagues and has been well below league average as a hitter in three of his four seasons. Gimenez, 22, had a good rookie year after being a back-end top 100 prospect before the season. Prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene are recent second-round picks who ranked ninth and 10th on the Mets' top 30 list, per MLB Pipeline.
It's the type of deal the Giants could make without mortgaging too much of the future -- perhaps using one of their young outfield prospects as the centerpiece -- and the good news is those deals seem to be out there for teams willing to take on salary, as the Mets and Padres have this offseason.
At some point, the Giants will need to pull the trigger, because the top of the National League gets more dangerous by the day.