After months of speculation over whether or not the Steve Cohen spending spree would ever actually begin for the New York Mets, Thursday’s blockbuster trade certainly quieted all doubts. In a move that sent Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, the Mets have not only made a strong statement that the Cohen Era isn’t going to be more of the same, but they are now serious World Series contenders.
Kings of the East
To call this trade game changing would be an understatement. In the 2021 season projections from Fangraphs, the Mets now project to have a .558 winning percentage (up from .535), good for the third best record in baseball, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Such a winning percentage would easily give the Mets the best record in the NL East, handily topping the Atlanta Braves (.538) for the division crown.
If it wasn’t already apparent, this trade is going to have massive ripple effects for the Mets and the entire league in 2021. Carrasco will get his own analysis next week, but for now, it’s time to take a look at what Lindor will bring to the Mets.
A Bona Fide Superstar
What can be said about Lindor that hasn’t already been said? Arguably the most coveted player this offseason, Lindor is not only the best shortstop in the majors, but one of the all-around best players period. In just six seasons, the 27-year-old is already a four-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove winner (including one Platinum Glove) and has finished in the top-10 of American League MVP voting three times. His 28.9 fWAR in that span not only dwarfs that of every Mets shortstop combined from 2015-2020, but is tops among every shortstop in the league.
Even though he only hit .258/.335/.415 in 2020 (he slashed .288/.347/.493 in his prior five seasons), Lindor still had an above average glove last season (.995 fielding percentage, 5.8 UZR and five Outs Above Average), something no Mets shortstop has been able to say for a while. Still, 2021 looks to be a bounce back season for Lindor, with the current ZiPS projections pegging him for 5.8 fWAR, 32 HR, 38 2B, 88 RBI, 20 SB, a 122 OPS+ and a slash line of .269/.335/.487. Any way you slice it, even with their potential upside, dealing away 2020 shortstops Rosario and Giménez was easily the best move for the Mets.
A New Contract?
Looking towards the future, Lindor is set to become a free agent in 2022 (he’s due roughly $20 million in 2021). Since it’s unlikely the Mets are only getting him as a rental, Cohen has a chance to make good on his promise to build a perpetual winner and sign Lindor to a long-term deal. For reference, Manny Machado was the last star shortstop to sign a major deal, having inked a 10-year, $300 million deal back in February 2019 (when he was only 26). The combination of Lindor’s slightly older age and superior numbers make it tricky to predict just how big a contract he could conceivably get, but that’s a problem for the future. For now, Mets fans can relish the thought of a 2021 lineup that looks something like this:
Francisco Lindor SS
Jeff McNeil LF
Pete Alonso 1B
Dominic Smith DH (assuming the league has a DH this year)
J.D. Davis 3B
It should go without saying, but if a team has a lineup with Lindor hitting second and Dom Smith hitting sixth, then opposing pitchers are sure in for a rough one.
Featured Image Courtesy of New York Mets Twitter
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