Mets to begin Lindor talks this week (source)

March 8th, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Let the negotiations begin.

The Mets intend to begin extension talks with shortstop this week, a source said, kicking off what could be a busy rest of the month. The same source said the Mets plan to handle their extension candidates one at a time, meaning they will work on completing a Lindor deal before pivoting to Michael Conforto and, possibly, Noah Syndergaard. The team has not commented on the talks.

The most complicated of those discussions may be with Lindor, whom many in the industry expect to command a contract worth $300 million or more. When the Mets acquired Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Indians on Jan. 7 in a six-player blockbuster, team officials spoke openly of their desire to extend him. Lindor, who is due to make $22.3 million this year, can become a free agent after this season.

“With respect to Lindor, we made the trade,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said recently. “That doesn’t mean necessarily that we are guaranteed to have him long term. But I think we’re committed to talking about it.”

Upon arriving to Mets camp last month, Lindor said he wanted to “get to know” the organization before deciding if an extension might make sense. The process mirrors what Mookie Betts experienced after being traded from Boston to Los Angeles in February 2020, before subsequently signing a 12-year, $365 million contract with the Dodgers prior to appearing in a game for them.

Still, the 27-year-old Lindor has stressed that every situation is different -- just as the particulars of his career differ from those of 22-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who recently inked a 14-year, $340 million deal with the Padres, or from veteran third baseman Nolan Arenado, who signed an eight-year, $260 million contract with the Rockies in February 2019 at age 27.

Lindor is a career .285/.346/.488 hitter with 138 homers, 99 steals, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and four All-Star appearances over six years with the Indians.

“The great thing about this is I have an amazing agent, David Meter, and he’s going to handle all of that,” Lindor said. “That’s his job. That’s why he gets paid. So let him handle all that, and then he’s going to call me and keep me in the loop obviously, and then it’s going to be a decision after that. So let him have all the headaches, let him run all the numbers and stuff. He’s got to chew it up and then give it to me.”

The Mets do have some leverage in that star shortstops Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Báez and Carlos Correa are all due to become free agents after this season, so if team officials cannot come to terms on an extension for Lindor, they will have options to replace him next winter. However, Alderson & Co. are cognizant of the excitement that Lindor has already brought to New York, and believe he can be the perfect face of their franchise for years to come. As such, they will do their best to make the financials work.

“The one thing I’ll say in particular about Francisco is I know a lot of people in the game that know him well,” Mets general manager Zack Scott said. “There’s nothing but great things said about him as a person and as a worker and as a player. So there’s no reservations there.”

Only after determining if a Lindor extension might be feasible will the front office pivot to Conforto, another impending free agent who has discussed a willingness to explore a long-term deal. Like Lindor, Conforto has said he would prefer to complete talks before the start of the season, though he stopped short of calling that a hard deadline.

Alderson has said he also intends to talk money with Syndergaard this spring, though that may be a more difficult deal to consummate since Syndergaard is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and has not pitched since 2019. While Alderson did not discount the possibility of negotiating with other players as well, he indicated that Lindor, Conforto and Syndergaard will take up most of the Mets’ attention.

“I think at this point,” Alderson said, “that’s plenty on our plate.”