'341 million reasons' Lindor will give his all

April 5th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Upon becoming the richest shortstop in Major League history late Wednesday evening, ’s first call was to his fiancée, Katia, who was home with the couple’s infant daughter. His next was to his sister, who was already asleep -- no surprise, given the late hour. Teeming with nervous energy in his Washington hotel room, Lindor kept dialing. His father. His cousins. Several of his friends.

A day later, with the ink on his 10-year, $341 million contract extension still fresh -- the team officially announced the deal on Monday -- Lindor laughed when recalling the conversation with his dad -- long one of his strongest backers and harshest critics. Lindor confessed to his father that he wanted to scream. Miguel Lindor told him not to.

“I’m like, ‘Pops, what are you talking about?’” the younger Lindor said, laughing. “‘You know when you drive down the highway and you see the billboard for the Powerball that says $300 million? You’re going to tell me you’re not going to scream? I’m going to scream. I want to scream.’”

Then Lindor quashed the metaphor: “Obviously, I’ve been working for this my whole entire life. It wasn’t like I picked out a number and I got it.”

For Lindor, this was indeed no lottery. About 16 hours after agreeing to terms on an extension that will keep him a Met until his 38th birthday, Lindor stressed that his negotiations were not about getting more money than Fernando Tatis Jr. (he did, by $1 million), nor were they about topping the present-day value of Mookie Betts’ deal (he did that, too). Instead, they were about establishing roots in a city that, while still somewhat foreign to Lindor, fascinates him like no other.

“I know I haven’t been to New York, but the guys, the boys made me feel comfortable around them,” Lindor said. “They made me a part of what they have in the clubhouse, and I love that. I love the opportunity that I have to bring a championship to the city of Queens.”

The deal is not without significant risk for the Mets, who are now tied to Lindor for more than a decade. They were willing to do it both for the obvious reasons -- Lindor is a switch-hitting shortstop smack in the middle of his prime, with power, speed, elite hitting ability and Gold Glove defense at a premium position -- as well as the less tangible ones. Since the early days of Spring Training, manager Luis Rojas and others have lauded Lindor for his ability to ingrain himself into clubhouse culture. They see a leader who can represent them off the field for years to come.

“When you talk about being the face of an organization, the face of baseball, also a Latin player,” Rojas said, “it’s because of his personality. That should be natural for him, just because of all the things he does with his demeanor. And it’s consistent every day.”

That is why the Mets had no qualms about not only extending Lindor, but going beyond their internal projections of his value to do so, and drawing up the papers for a full decade. The expectation is that Lindor will shine throughout his tenure; asked what kind of player he will be at age 38, he grinned and replied: “A bad mother…”

Then Lindor launched into all the ways he intends to make good on the team’s commitment to him -- as a shortstop, as a hitter, as a leader and as a Met.

“This logo right here means a lot,” Lindor said, pointing to the interlocking NY on his shirt. “I’ve got to go out there every single day and defend it, and play as hard as I can for this, for what I have on my chest. That’s what it means. That number next to me? That’s what it means. Those are 341 million reasons for me to go out there and play the game the right way.”