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Tipsheet: Wealthy Mets add Lindor, continue building big-market juggernaut

Tipsheet: Wealthy Mets add Lindor, continue building big-market juggernaut

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Mega deal: Indians trade star Lindor, Carrasco to Mets

FILE - Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor (12) fields the ball in the first inning of Game 1 of an American League wild-card baseball series against the against the New York Yankees in Cleveland, in this Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, file photo. The Cleveland Indians have agreed to trade four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets, a person with direct knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/David Dermer, File)

The New York Mets are we thought they are. Under the new ownership of billionaire Steve Cohen, they are now a big-market juggernaut.

The Cleveland Indians are who we know they are, a mid-market franchise that's reluctant to invest big in talent. Once again they decided to slash payroll in exchange for more young, cheap labor.

So there was no surprise when the Mets acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Indians for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, outfielder Isaiah Greene and pitcher Josh Wolf.

That saves the Indians $30 million and moves the Mets closer to the level of the might Los Angeles Dodgers and ambitious San Diego Padres.

“It’s one of the hardest things in baseball to get -- a shortstop, superstar player in his prime, a charismatic personality, a guy who makes his teammates better,” Mets general manager Jared Porter said.

The Mets will make every effort to lock Lindor into a long-term deal. Cohen has almost unlimited resources to what he wants with his new toy.

"We acquired Francisco because of his present ability and the possibility that he could be a Met long term. There's no guarantee of that. It's something we will approach in the next few weeks," Mets president Sandy Alderson said. "At this point, we felt comfortable giving up the group of players we did for both Lindor and Carrasco.

“We gave up a lot of control for short-term control, but I think we're comfortable with that and what we might be able to do going forward."

Look for the Mets to continue wheeling and dealing. The Mets are becoming a destination franchise for top players.

“I think we do have optimism,” Alderson said. “I think what we have to offer is a great city, a great baseball city, an organization that we hope is on the rise. There’s a lot of excitement associated with new ownership. I think there are a lot of reasons why we should be optimistic about any follow-up decision that we want to make.”

Meanwhile the Cardinals are staying their wait-and-see course. They are waiting to see what bargains will be awaiting them closer to spring training. They are waiting to see what they can or can’t do with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.

This team was never going to make a play for Lindor this winter, no matter how many trade proposals fans formulated.

Here is what folks are writing about the trade:

Bob Nightengale, USA Today: “The Mets became World Series contenders Thursday, and pose a powerful threat to dethrone Atlanta in their division, winners of the last three NL East titles. After two months of trade talks, the Mets acquired one of the game's top players, landing four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, along with veteran starter Carlos Carrasco. In return, Cleveland receives shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ahmed Rosario, and two players that were not among the Mets’ top 10 prospects: starter Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. Meanwhile, the Mets still are engaged with free-agent closer Liam Hendriks and center fielder George Springer, and have had trade talks with the Chicago Cubs for third baseman Kris Bryant. When asked if they had the appetite for another big move, Alderson said: ‘We are always hungry.’ Yeah, the Mets are back . . . And for Cleveland, well, it may be the perfect day to announce your new nickname. Cleveland owner Paul Dolan told his front office he needed to shed payroll, and the team certainly did that. Cleveland, which had reached the postseason four of the past five years, whacked about $67 million off their payroll. Carrasco is owed $27 million on his contract and Lindor is expected to command about $20 million in salary arbitration. This is a team that was in the World Series four years ago, won 91 games in 2018 with four pitchers who started at least 25 games with Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Carrasco. And now they’re all gone, along with any hopes of contending.”

Tom Verducci, SI.com: “Steve Cohen’s New York Mets made an announcement Thursday. It wasn’t just the trade for superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and strikeout pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians for a relatively modest package. It was confirmation of what we suspected might happen when this wolf of Wall Street became the richest owner in baseball: the New York Mets intend to be on a par with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers as annual power brokers in Major League Baseball. This was the equivalent of George Steinbrenner, one year into his ownership of the New York Yankees, a team that missed the playoffs 10 straight years, signing free agent Catfish Hunter to a five-year, $3.75-million deal on Dec. 31, 1974. The Lindor deal is huge. But it is only the beginning.”

R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: “This is the kind of blockbuster acquisition the Mets were supposed to make early and often under Cohen's ownership, in terms of both the headline and the method --  preying on penny-pinching owners unwilling to pony up to keep their best players in town. That the Mets were able to lasso Lindor and Carrasco without sacrificing anything they'll miss is an impressive piece of work by new general manager Jared Porter. Lindor is, of course, a star. Prior to the pandemic, he had reeled off four consecutive seasons in which he had amassed five-plus Wins Above Replacement. The only players with more WAR than Lindor over the last five years are Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, and Jose Ramirez. (It does not reflect well on baseball's current operating philosophy that four of the five may end up being traded within a three-year period.) Lindor can do it all. At the plate, he's a switch-hitter who makes loud contact and who takes his walks without striking out a ton. On the basepaths, he's an efficient thief capable of swiping bats at volume. In the field, he's a splendid defensive shortstop. If you're nitpicking, you could point out that he's struggled against lefties the past two seasons (though it's unclear how much of that can be attributed to a small sample size), or that he … makes decisions with hair dye that others balk at? You have to really, really reach, which is the most surefire indicator that he is a franchise player. It's unclear what kind of contract Lindor has on his vision board. Under normal circumstances, he'd be justified to shoot for more than the Anthony Rendon deal (seven years, $245 million) and hope that inflation's gentle breeze pushed his demand downwind, far closer to the Mookie Betts extension (12 years, $365 million). Now? Who knows. That uncertainty should, theoretically, help the Mets' odds of retaining Lindor. Carrasco's addition shouldn't be overlooked, either. He's coming off a season in which he posted a 2.91 ERA (157 ERA+) and a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Outside of 2019, when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, he's been a reliably above-average starter who doubles as a well-regarded figure in the clubhouse.” 

Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports: “A short and painful 2020, an unpredictable 2021 and then a 2022 that will bear the scars from those seasons along with a looming and hairy labor negotiation have pushed the industry to its heels. General managers are explaining to frustrated agents that the market must reflect the whole world and not just the sliver of it where baseball lives, that fact also playing out in the recent light returns on, for example, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Lindor. The Mets took on perhaps $35 million for ‘21 on Thursday and league sources suspect the Indians had perhaps one other serious suitor for Lindor (and Carrasco), that being the Toronto Blue Jays. To that end, one of the top 20 free agents has signed, Korean infielder Ha-Seong with the San Diego Padres. The Padres — like the Mets and, soon, the Blue Jays — are remarkable this winter for the spiritedness of their roster building. Meantime, the high end of free-agent players — catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielder Springer, starting pitcher Bauer — remain available five weeks from the scheduled opening of spring camps.”

Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com: “Lindor was the team's best and most beloved player since Jim Thome, and now he's gone, with his tenure having peaked with a World Series Game 7 loss. Don't overlook Carrasco either. He was a popular player who did a ton in the community. He'll be missed as well. Cleveland's payroll is down to roughly $40 million -- $40 million! -- which is just embarrassing for a Major League Baseball franchise in 2021, pandemic or no pandemic. I can't imagine what this all feels like for the fan base. It has to be a gut punch. I'm sorry, folks.”

MEGAPHONE

"These are people we care about, not just players, and guys that loved the organization and have great memories here. Trades like this are really tough. But it's the right thing to do."

Cleveland Indians president of baseball operations Chis Antonetti, after dumping the salaries of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco.

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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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