Lindor all smiles with Mets. Extension next?

Star introduced to New York. First plans in new city? 'I love pizza'

January 11th, 2021

NEW YORK -- No sooner did ’s present reality turn to New York than the conversation surrounding him shifted to the future. The Mets may have completed a blockbuster trade to acquire Lindor on Thursday, but he is under contract for merely one more season. For the deal to provide maximum value, the Mets will need to find a way to extend his deal.

It is a conversation familiar to Lindor, who attempted to negotiate an extension with the Indians multiple times (most recently, just last year). Cleveland couldn’t offer the resources necessary to lock up a player of Lindor’s caliber, so it traded him instead. But the Mets, with owner Steve Cohen in place, can offer more.

Such talk is sure to dominate the first few weeks of Lindor’s Mets tenure, as it did throughout Lindor’s introductory press conference on Monday. With the caveat that he has not begun any conversations yet, Lindor said he is willing to negotiate with his new team -- provided the terms are right.

“I’m excited to be with the Mets organization,” Lindor said. “I’m not against a long-term [commitment]. I’m not against it. It just has to make sense for both sides. … We’ll see what happens. I’m excited. Just like every fan out there, I’m extremely excited for this new chapter.”

Were Lindor not due to reach free agency next winter, the Indians never would have traded their generational star. Reality forced them to; Cleveland attempted to negotiate an extension with Lindor as far back as 2017, when he was coming off his first All-Star season as a 22-year-old. The Indians tried again in '20, when Lindor was 26 and fully established as one of the game’s brightest stars, most complete hitters, slickest fielders and foremost ambassadors. Nicknamed “Mr. Smile,” Lindor hit .288/.347/.493 over his first five seasons, with four All-Star appearances.

Those types of attributes make a player expensive -- particularly in a marketplace that recently saw perennial MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Manny Machado ink $365 million and $300 million contracts, respectively. Unable to offer Lindor something in that neighborhood, the Indians instead traded him and to the Mets for a package of Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and two prospects.

Now, Lindor’s new employers feel an obligation to at least try to secure him to a long-term deal. If they succeed, they’ll make him the face of their franchise for the next decade or more. If not, New York will have given up four young players for two to three years of Carrasco and one of Lindor.

“We acquired Francisco because of his present ability and the possibility that he could be a Met long term,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said after completing the trade. “There’s no guarantee of that. It’s something that we will approach in the next few weeks.”

Already, Lindor has spoken to both Alderson and Cohen, though those were simple introductory calls; no one has addressed the money issue just yet. Lindor is still trying to grow acclimated to his new organization, fielding additional messages from Mets coaches and players including Michael Conforto, Edwin Díaz, James McCann and Tomás Nido, the latter of whom he played alongside as a child in Puerto Rico. Lindor is curious about New York, which he called “one of the most fun cities in the world” and “a great city for my little girl to grow in.” Asked about his top priority upon arriving in his new home, Lindor quipped, “I love pizza, so I’ll probably eat some pizza.”

A New Yorker already? If nothing else, it’s clear that Lindor favors the idea of growing roots. He attempted to do so in Cleveland, but the price did not suit him. He’s open to doing so in Queens.

“I have never said, ‘I can’t wait to get to free agency,’" Lindor noted, “because for me, that was always so far ahead.”

Now it’s less than a year away, providing incentive for imminent negotiations. Lindor does not intend to discuss financials past a certain point in Spring Training, giving the Mets roughly two months to complete a deal. If they can, it would almost certainly shatter the largest commitment New York has ever made, to David Wright for $138 million in 2012.

Under Cohen, the Mets are open to bigger and bolder things. Lindor is warm to the idea, as well. For this newlywed couple, a new contract may only be a matter of time.

“We’ll see what happens,” Lindor said. “I live life day by day, so I’m extremely excited to be in this situation. I’m happy to be with the Mets. I will miss Cleveland, but I’m excited. I’m excited for a new chapter in my life.”