Mets pull off Lindor blockbuster

January 7th, 2021

With entering the final year of his contract in 2021, he will be the focus of plenty of trade talks this offseason. Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the Indians shortstop.

Mets pull off blockbuster trade for Lindor, Carrasco
Jan. 7: The blockbuster Lindor trade that many assumed would happen this offseason has indeed come through. The Mets and Indians announced a trade that sends Lindor to Queens alongside starter Carlos Carrasco. In return, Cleveland gets shortstops Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario alongside Minor Leaguers Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene, New York's No. 9 and No. 10 prospects.

The Mets were long a favorite landing spot for Lindor in trade rumors surrounding the shortstop, who is under contract for one more season before hitting free agency.

These two teams could be trade partners for Lindor

Jan. 6: The Mets and Blue Jays could be the likeliest trade partners for Lindor, according to a report Wednesday from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for The Athletic (subscription required).

Rosenthal compares the Indians' situation to the one the Red Sox faced with Mookie Betts last offseason. The Mets, Blue Jays, Giants and Twins all appear willing to spend, but Rosenthal notes the difficulty of finding a match this year like the Dodgers were for Betts.

There are several solid free-agent shortstops this year -- Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons -- and the 2021-22 shortstop free-agent class is set to include Lindor, Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story.

Of the four teams Rosenthal mentions, the Mets and Blue Jays look like the best matches for Lindor because their focus in free agency is on other positions right now.

The Mets could have the edge as a Lindor suitor if they can use the allure of New York to convince Lindor to sign a long-term extension. The Blue Jays could be a strong candidate too, though, if they can't land the big free agents they're targeting -- although they don't have a particular need at shortstop, with Bo Bichette already there.

Could Carrasco join Lindor in a trade?

Dec. 23: While it’s widely assumed across baseball that Lindor will be traded at some point this offseason, there are a variety of ways that such a deal could be structured. Cleveland could look for younger, high-ceiling prospects in return, or focus on players who are ready to contribute in the Majors now. The club could pick up some of Lindor’s 2021 salary in order to maximize its return, or prioritize reducing its payroll.

Another potential wrinkle? Including another star player in the deal, such as right-hander Carlos Carrasco.’s Cleveland beat writer Mandy Bell touched on that blockbuster possibility in an Inbox column published Tuesday, noting that it “wouldn’t be surprising” if the club paired Lindor with Carrasco, who is set to earn $12 million in both of the next two seasons and has a $14 million team option for 2023. By trimming that additional cost from an area of strength (starting pitching), Cleveland could then perhaps have more room in its budget to spend on bats.

Meanwhile, adding Carrasco to Lindor would increase the financial responsibility of the acquiring team but also allow it to address two needs at once. After a difficult 2019 season during which he overcame leukemia, Carrasco bounced back this year, posting a 2.91 ERA and 10.9 K/9 rate over 12 starts.

Experts believe Lindor trade a lock

Dec. 22: Lindor has been the most-discussed trade candidate this offseason, with plenty of indications that a deal will come to fruition. In fact, there seems to be a consensus that Cleveland will part with the four-time All-Star going into his final season before free agency.

On Tuesday, ESPN published its annual Hot Stove survey, which polled “20 team executives and baseball insiders” about a number of key offseason questions. One asked about the offseason fates of Lindor and fellow trade candidate Kris Bryant of the Cubs. While the respondents were mixed about Bryant, all 20 predicted that Lindor will be wearing a different uniform by Opening Day, with one calling a trade, “just a matter of where and when.”

That sort of across-the-board agreement is notable, and an indication that Cleveland is motivated to move Lindor’s 2021 salary (expected to be in the $20 million range via arbitration) and receive some valuable pieces in return before he hits free agency.

What makes a Lindor trade so difficult

Dec. 13: A Lindor trade is overwhelmingly likely to happen, eight executives told MLB Network insider Joel Sherman as part of his latest column for the New York Post. But it won't be easy for the Indians to pull off, and it especially won't be easy for president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti to get the kind of return commensurate with such a star talent as Lindor.

"Lindor is entering his walk season, so that is the only control an acquiring team would receive," writes Sherman, "and what do you give in return when you have no idea yet if the season will be 162 games or 155 or 145 …? Plus, most teams are looking to drive down payroll for next season after claiming huge 2020 losses. Thus, it is hard to add that $20 million-ish salary and give up low-cost youngsters."

Sherman notes that none of those eight executives he spoke with think the Indians would match the return that the Red Sox got for Mookie Betts last winter (Alex Verdugo and Minor Leaguers Jeter Downs and Connor Wong), though Sherman ponders if Cleveland could attach a high-priced starter in Carlos Carrasco (two years, $24 million remaining on his contract) the same way Boston was able to attach David Price to Betts.

As for the one team that could match up for a Lindor trade? Sherman points to the Blue Jays, a club hungry to build around its young core and with a front office of team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins that drafted and developed Lindor in Cleveland.

Olney: Lindor trade seems 'inevitable'

Dec. 9: After years of "will they or won't they" in regard to trading Lindor, this is the winter that Cleveland will finally deal away its superstar, Buster Olney predicts in a column for ESPN+ (subscription required). Olney states that a Lindor trade "finally seems inevitable" with the shortstop just one year away from free agency, the same way that a trade of Mookie Betts seemed inevitable last year before the Red Sox indeed dealt him to the Dodgers.

"By all accounts from sources around baseball, the Indians are prepared to listen, aggressively," writes Olney. "Cleveland needs to recoup value for Lindor before he walks away, just as it did with CC Sabathia (swapped for Michael Brantley), Cliff Lee (Carlos Carrasco), and Trevor Bauer (Franmil Reyes)."

The uber-talented Lindor might not surpass the $365 million contract that Betts signed with the Dodgers this summer, but he could still ink one worth somewhere between $250 million and $300 million -- a price tag that the Indians likely couldn't agree to without severely restricting the flexibility of the rest of its roster. Olney writes that it's unclear how much headway the Indians' front office has made in striking a trade, but multiple sources tell him that the search for a general manager by the Mets -- one of this winter's most aggressive clubs -- has slowed discussions.

Atkins: Blue Jays 'think the world' of Lindor

Dec. 8: Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins won't go so far as to say Toronto wants to trade for Lindor -- he'll leave the trade ideas up to the media -- but he gave the star shortstop a glowing review on Tuesday.

"I'm going to step out of the way and let you guys make some deals for us," Atkins said on MLB Network. "We think the world of that organization. We think the world of Frankie."

Interpret those comments how you will. The Blue Jays could definitely make a Lindor trade work, even though they already have Bo Bichette at shortstop. Toronto could move Bichette to third base for 2021, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. now at first base, and Bichette could always move back to short if the Jays didn't sign Lindor to a long-term extension after a trade.

Lindor, Bichette, Vlad Jr. and Cavan Biggio? Talk about a super infield.

Alderson: Mets more likely to be FA suitors, not trade partners

Nov. 29: The Mets have probably been mentioned more in Lindor trade rumors than any other club, but team president Sandy Alderson's most recent comments suggest New York is focusing more of its attention in the free-agent market. In an interview Sunday with MLB Network Radio, Alderson stated that the club will likely be inclined to retain the kind of prospects that would be needed to land a superstar like Lindor via trade.

“I think the Mets have scouted pretty darn well over the last 10 years -- including the last couple,” said Alderson, “but on the other hand, there hasn’t been the patience. That’s not a criticism of the last couple years, it’s just that over time [we need] to allow these players to develop. We’re going to recommit to our farm system and try to stay away from our really good prospects in significant trades.”

Former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen notably dealt outfielder Jarred Kelenic, now the sport’s ninth-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, and right-hander Justin Dunn to the Mariners after the 2018 season in exchange for veteran second baseman Robinson Canó, who was suspended for the entire ’21 season after testing positive for a banned substance. That trade still looms over the Mets, and Alderson points out that Cohen’s considerable financial resources position New York as a more logical player in the free-agent space, anyway.

“There are only two currencies in baseball: players and money,” Alderson said. “Right now, especially at the upper levels of our system, we don’t have the players. We have some money, at this point. We’re going to balance those two things, but that’s why we expect to be active in the free-agent market as opposed to the trade market. We don’t want to give up our young guys.”

Stroman hoping Mets trade for Lindor

Nov. 24: Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is a potential trade target for the Mets this offseason, and New York right-hander Marcus Stroman is among those hoping the team completes a trade for the four-time All-Star.

Stroman was tagged in a Twitter post Tuesday noting that Lindor had picked up a bunch of merchandise from Stroman’s apparel company.

“Lindor supporting his future teammate @STR0?” the post asked, along with a screen grab of Lindor’s Instagram story in which he showed off his new duds.

“I’m praying on this,” Stroman replied.

With new owner Steve Cohen at the helm, the Mets are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams this offseason. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Tuesday that the club is targeting free agents George Springer, Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto in addition to Lindor, hoping to come away with more than one. 

Stroman was briefly a free agent as well, but he opted to accept the Mets' $18.9 million qualifying offer to return for 2021.