Francisco Lindor is a New York Met
New York Mets fans were ecstatic when they successfully landed superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor in a trade with the Cleveland Indians. The thing is, Lindor is only under team control for one more year. This means he is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season. The fans are clamoring for Lindor to be extended as soon as possible, but would that be the best play from the Mets front office?
Not that I need to, but firstly I’ll establish that Lindor is a really good player. The four-time all star, two-time silver slugger, and two-time gold glove award winner has accumulated 28.7 bWar before turning 27 years old. Those stats put him solidly on hall of fame pace. He only has a career 117 OPS+, but that’s good enough, combined with his incredible defense, to make him one of the best shortstops in the league.
Why the Mets should extend Lindor
Franscisco Lindor is a generational talent, still young and in his prime. Mets fans will dismiss Lindor’s poor 2020 60 game season as a fluke. The projections support this assessment too; they for the most part have Lindor returning to his career averages in 2021.
Lindor will command a very large contract, and the Mets may have no choice but to give it to him. They seem to have put all their eggs in the Lindor basket, trading away Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez, their best young shortstops.
The biggest reason they must agree with Lindor on an extension may be fan pressure. Mets fans haven’t acquired a superstar like this in quite some time, perhaps not since the likes of Johan Santana or Mike Piazza. The good news is that the Mets’ new owner Steve Cohen can definitely afford to keep Lindor. It would be a very bad look for the Mets to let Lindor go, considering all the hype around now having the richest owner in MLB.
Why the Mets should not extend Lindor
We have to be realistic, Lindor had a down year in 2020. While Lindor is a truly great player, he really isn’t all that special offensively. It has been reported that Lindor is looking for upwards of $300 million dollars. As good as Lindor is, I’d be hesitant to commit $300 million to a player with a career 117 OPS+. Even in 2018, his best season, he only had an .871 OPS. While that’s good, especially at shortstop, which is typically a weak hitting position, is he really worth a mega deal comparable to that of Manny Machado or Mookie Betts?
If Lindor is actually seeking a contract worth of $300 million, it is a bit of a problem. As of right now, based on recent performance, he isn’t worth that much money. I often see baseball fans comparing the Mookie Betts trade with the Lindor trade. There is one big flaw with this: Betts is simply a better player than Lindor. While the situations are comparable, both star players being traded with one season left of team control, Betts is the definitive second best player in all of baseball while Lindor is coming off a career worst season.
Lindor obviously views himself as an elite player, so if the Mets don’t offer him elite player money, then it will be in his best interest to prove himself in 2021, and then hit free agency. I don’t think the Mets will let that happen. While there is risk in making a large commitment to Lindor, I think it’s a risk the Mets must take. The Mets being the little brother team in town are always concerned with media optics and perception. It would be a terrible look for the Mets to lose Lindor to free agency, especially if he ends up signing with a rival team.