Francisco Lindor's extension negotiations may be brushing up on Opening Day, but optimism remains strong within the organization that the two sides can complete a deal.
The latest evidence surfaced Saturday in Florida, according to Mets manager Luis Rojas and others, who confirmed that owner Steve Cohen spent a night dining with Lindor. Cohen hinted at the meal on Twitter, replying to a question by quipping: “The ravioli wasn’t very good.” He later told another fan that Lindor ordered chicken parmesan.
In that manner, Cohen has become playful in recent days regarding Lindor’s contract negotiations. He also jokingly crowdsourced extension terms, asking fans what they thought the Mets should offer Lindor. Most responses came in well over $300 million, which many industry sources have long considered the floor for a Lindor extension.
Lindor’s price certainly has not fallen this spring, which has seen the switch-hitter bat .365/.431/.615 in 16 games. The Mets acquired him in a six-player deal with the Indians on Jan. 7.
“He’s been a great asset so far,” Rojas said. “So we can’t wait to watch him in the season performing to help us win games, like we expect.”
While sources stopped short of calling the dinner a key negotiation session, meals of this nature do often precipitate agreements. Days before signing a $60 million free-agent deal with the Mets in 2013, Curtis Granderson said he joined then-general manager Sandy Alderson for a meal of “yummy salmon.” Two years ago, during a marathon negotiating session with Jacob deGrom at a Florida airport, former GM Brodie Van Wagenen broke away from talks to purchase taquitos and mini tacos for the group from a nearby 7-Eleven.
For Lindor, it was chicken parm on a slightly looser deadline. Earlier this spring, Lindor was adamant in saying he will not negotiate past Opening Day. That gives the Mets three days with which to complete an extension.
“I will not be negotiating during the season. I will go to free agency if something carries on during the season,” Lindor said. “It’s not fair for me, it’s not fair for the team. I’ve got to give everything I’ve got into winning baseball games. So if it doesn't happen in Spring Training, I’ll go to free agency and we’ll talk in November.”
Deadline aside, Lindor has been open in saying that he's willing to sign an extension. Early this spring, he noted that he wanted to “get to know” the organization before potentially committing the next decade of his career to it. Midway through camp, shortly after negotiations began, Lindor seemed satisfied in that arena.
“I’m very comfortable,” he said. “I like the guys here. I like the coaching staff, trainers, athletic trainers -- everybody’s on the right path. We’re all trying to win. We’re all trying to get better. So yeah, I’m liking the organization. I’m feeling more comfortable as we go through every day. It’s a good workplace. I’m happy right now, so we’ll see what happens. I’m blessed once again to be surrounded by a great group of guys.”
The Mets have also been negotiating a potential extension with Michael Conforto, but the outfielder has not set as hard of an Opening Day deadline as Lindor. It’s possible the Mets could complete deals with both players in the coming days, though team officials have expressed a desire to complete Lindor’s negotiations before turning more seriously to Conforto.