Mets dealing for Cleveland stars Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco

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Francisco Lindor is the headliner of a six-player blockbuster trade between the Mets and Indians. (Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Francisco Lindor is the headliner of a six-player blockbuster trade between the Mets and Indians. (Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The New York Mets are acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in a trade with the Cleveland Indians, a move befitting the big splash fans have expected from new billionaire owner Steve Cohen.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan was first to report a deal to send Lindor to Queens is going to happen. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Carrasco will be part of the deal too. The Indians made it official soon after.

For the Mets, it’s a big step toward becoming contenders immediately in the Cohen era, and providing insurance if they don’t acquire top free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer. For the Indians, it begs the question of whether this opens a rebuilding window and other players might be available in trade.

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The trade will send shortstops Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez, pitching prospect Josh Wolf and outfield prospect Isaiah Greene to Cleveland. Rosario is a 25-year-old, once considered the Mets’ shortstop of the future. Giménez is a 22-year-old who played 49 games last season as a rookie. Wolf and Greene are both minor leaguers, with Greene just being drafted last year. Wolf and Greene were ranked near the back of the Mets’ top 10 prospects.

Lindor, 27, is one of the faces of MLB. He will be a free agent after 2021 and the cost-conscious Indians, who made themselves long shots to re-sign him, eventually made it clear they would trade him instead of trying. The Mets, on the other hand, have the money and ambition to secure his services for the foreseeable future.

Carrasco, 33, has two years left before free agency. He had a 2.91 ERA for the Indians last season and strengthens a Mets rotation that already includes perennial Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom.

The Mets will try to keep Lindor long-term

In their ideal world, the Mets are hoping this ends up like last year’s blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. L.A. then signed Betts long term before the season even started. That deal was for $365 million over 12 years. That would figure to at least set the goalposts for a Lindor extension.

The Mets wouldn’t trade two shortstops of the future if they didn’t have hopes of re-signing Lindor and a strong belief that it’s a possibility.

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More cost-shedding for the Indians

Trading away Lindor and Carrasco signaled a return to being one of MLB’s smallest payrolls. Cleveland’s payroll for 2021 would be around $40 million, according to Roster Resource, less than half of what it was slated to be in 2020 (before the pandemic measures cut the actual dollars spent).

The biggest contract on the books for 2021 is Jose Ramirez’s $9.4 million. Beyond that, only four other players would be making more than $1 million.

It’s reasonable to ask where the Indians go from here: Are they in full-on rebuilding mode? And would they consider moving Ramirez next? Or are they trying to go to the Rays route and build a winner without any big, long-term contracts?

They do have a current Cy Young winner Shane Bieber on a pre-arbitration contract and plenty of young players that came over in trades when they unloaded Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber.

Steve Cohen’s big splash

The new Mets owner promised that he would make the team a contender quickly, and his first offseason has been an enjoyable ride for Mets fans.

While the Mets figured to be contenders for all three big free agents — Bauer, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto — none of those have landed yet. They opted for James McCann instead of Realmuto, but should still be considered candidates for Bauer and Springer.

The Mets also got pitcher Marcus Stroman to return on a qualifying offer and signed Trevor May to help their bullpen. Both of those players, like Cohen, are active on Twitter and reacted as you’d expect to Thursday’s news.

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