Francisco Lindor on Monday spoke the media for the first time since the New York Mets acquired him from Cleveland via blockbuster trade last week. Outfitted in the hat of his new team, Lindor took questions from reports on a Zoom call, and very promptly he addressed his contract situation.
Lindor is slated for free agency following the 2021 season, which explains why Cleveland traded him in the first place. Lindor on Monday confirmed that he'd had contract talks with Cleveland prior to the trade that brought him to New York. Given the Dolan family's complete unwillingness to invest in payroll, however, it's hardly surprising that those efforts came to grief. "We talked, and we gave it our best efforts from both sides," Lindor said of the talks with Cleveland.
Not surprisingly, Lindor expressed a willingness to discuss a long-term extension with the Mets. "I have never been against an extension," Lindor said, countering the speculation that he was committed to becoming a free agent next offseason. "I have never been against signing long-term."
While Lindor did not indicate talks with the Mets have yet commenced, he says he expects those discussions to happen at some point. Like most players, however, Lindor seems to prefer not to have negotiations carry over into the season itself. "It gets to a point in spring training and it is time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning," Lindor said Monday.
The Mets under new owner Steve Cohen, team president Sandy Alderson, and GM Jared Porter want to build a sustainable winner in Queens, and the next logical step would be locking up their star shortstop. Given Cohen's stated willingness to support a payroll that reflects the Mets' strong market position, paying the going rates for a Lindor extension isn't too heavy a lift.
So what might that look like? Lindor is 27, and thanks to his skills at the plate, in the field, and on the bases he's already racked up a career WAR of 28.7. In matters related, for his career he's averaged 29 home runs, 40 doubles, and 21 stolen bases per 162 games played, and he's deservedly won a pair of Gold Gloves at the most vital position on the diamond. So, yes, he's a true superstar, and that stardom is buoyed by one of the most engaging personalities in MLB today.
Given all that and given the Mets' certain desire to buy out several of Lindor's free agent years, you're likely looking at a price tag of more than $300 million. At present, just three players -- Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, Mike Trout of the Angels, and Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees (he was with the Marlins at the time of his contract) -- have signed extensions of $300 million or more. Recent rumors suggest that Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres may soon join their ranks. Needless to say, Lindor, while not quite on the level of Betts and Trout, has a long-term outlook that would more than justify such an investment. Also recall that Betts signed his extension with the Dodgers before ever playing a game for them, which is the likely path forward for the Mets and Lindor.
Given the Mets' resources, Cohen's commitment to using them, and Lindor's stated willingness to consider an extension, don't be surprised if Lindor holds another Mets press conference before Opening Day rolls around.