NY Mets: It is a disaster if Francisco Lindor is not extended
By Mason Smoller
Ever since the New York Mets acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor, the countdown began. No, not the countdown until Opening Day. Rather the countdown until the Lindor hits the market.
Yes, the Mets now have one of the game’s brightest stars in uniform, but they also take on his one-year contract. Lindor is set to be a free agent for the first time in his career after this season, and he is going to get paid.
As a four-time All-Star, two-time winner of the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, and former face of the Cleveland Indians, Lindor is going to receive a massive deal. The question simply is, will it be from the Mets?
The team dealt two top prospects on top of promising young starting-level shortstops in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez for Lindor. He is an elite bat and glove that did not come cheap, and one that the Mets must extend long-term.
Because it is a disaster if Lindor walks after one season.
The new Mets shortstop is open to an extension
When the deal went through, the Mets knew Lindor’s contract situation. He is 27-years-old and is the superstar the team has been searching for. Most importantly, he is not opposed to staying in Queens.
Already, Lindor has mentioned how he is willing to negotiate a long-term deal, should the price be right. The Mets have a fantastic young core of batters, though not that elite player who is a yearly All-Star the way Lindor is. When a player of Lindor’s ability comes to a team, they must be built around.
Bad message for the Steve Cohen era
Steve Cohen, the Mets brand new owner who wants to turn around this franchise is the man behind the move. He wanted to win now, and in the future without giving up their top assets. Essentially, he wants the team to finally act as a major market team.
Yes, the 2022 shortstop free agent class is loaded with Lindor headlining a group featuring Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager. But again, Lindor is the headliner for a reason due to his consistency, and talent with his bat and glove.
As Cohen, the richest owner in the sport looks to win a championship, the Lindor trade was the first real sign that he wants this as badly as the team’s fans. If Lindor is not extended, it leaves a bad taste in fan’s mouths having given up for players with years of team control for a one-year superstar rental.
A future fight for Lindor
Should New York push off an extension with Lindor until after 2021, they may be setting themselves up for a bidding war. Yes, there are other shortstops available next offseason, but Lindor is going to be the prize of free agency.
This offseason, teams were offloading contracts in order to adapt to salary issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows where things may stand next offseason.
The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the other big market giants all will certainly check in on Lindor’s interest if available. And if the Mets are serious about becoming a respected major market team, they do whatever it takes to keep Lindor from going to their top competitors. Especially their big brother in the Bronx.
It simply makes too much sense
There is also the matter that if the Mets lock up Lindor long-term, they gain significant flexibility. Lindor is a top of the lineup bat and elite glove that the Mets can tool the team around.
Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, and J.D. Davis are all under team control through 2024, leaving the Mets with a fantastic four-year window with that young core. They also have three top seven prospects in shortstop Ronny Mauricio and third baseman Brett Baty and Mark Vientos due to hit the majors around 2022.
In other words, the Mets have a ton of young players and potential for depth. To have Lindor as the face of this unit is enough to put it over the top. After all, the Mets are already now considered a World Series threat since acquiring him in the first place.
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Lindor is the superstar that Mets fans have been wanting in Queens for decades. He is young, and the team can be built around him with flexibility both short and long-term. But more importantly, if they cannot extend Francisco Lindor, it would be a disastrous message that would be sent towards fans who thought the trade marked the beginning of a new age in Mets baseball.