The Mets would love to sign Francisco Lindor to a long-term contract and will likely soon begin their attempt to do so, if they haven’t already.
But if Lindor leaves for another team after this season, New York will still consider its recent trade with Cleveland worthwhile, according to people familiar with the team’s thinking and process. Their perception of the success of the deal is not contingent on making Lindor a Met long-term, and was not made with the assumption that they would do so.
To be very clear: This was a trade for one year of control over Lindor and two years of control plus a club option for Carlos Carrasco. An extension for Lindor would be a separate transaction, unrelated to the price they paid to acquire him.
Therefore, it is not safe to assume that because the Mets traded for Lindor, they will keep him. Not even close.
When a team decides what they are willing to give up in a trade, they calculate that value of each player. This involves looking at salary, projected production and years of control.
In this case, the Mets decided that three years of Amed Rosario, five years of Andres Gimenez and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene was an acceptable cost for three years of Carrasco and one year of Lindor, sources say. This was not an easy decision, and came after some internal debate, because of the quality of players headed to Cleveland.
In order to prevent Lindor from becoming a free agent, the Mets know they will probably have to offer him more than $300 million before Opening Day. It’s not yet clear if they will do so.
“I have never negotiated a contract during the season,” Lindor said Monday. “Once it gets to a point in spring training, it’s time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning and that is the only thing I should be focused on. Not how much money I am going to get, how much money do I need to get. It’s about focusing on what I have every day, my task.”
The Mets are comfortable with this. Next year’s free agent shortstops will likely include Javy Baez, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa.
Let’s not get too carried away with those options. Lindor has a leg up on them in New York for several reasons: He is already a Met. He is just 27 years old, has a magnetic personality and by all accounts is a strong leader. If the Mets are going to invest more than $300 million in any player, Lindor should be at the top of the list.
But whether they ultimately do that has nothing to do with the trade. That deal was for one year of a superstar player and three years of an excellent veteran pitcher, period.