The first blockbuster trade of the Steve Cohen era went down Thursday, with the Mets acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Indians. In return for one of the best shortstops in the game and a top of the rotation starter, the Mets gave up shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene.
So, where to begin? Well, the Mets are now a better team than they were when last season ended. Gimenez and Rosario showed promise (although personally, I was never particularly impressed with Rosario), but Lindor is on a Hall of Fame track and he is only 27 years old. Wolf and Greene are apparently somewhat heralded prospects, but they are only prospects; who knows how it will turn out? And besides, Brodie Van Wagenen drafted them — Alderson has no loyalty to them (perhaps payback for Van Wagnen trading several of Alderson’s draftees?!).
Lindor hit 30 or more home runs in each of the three seasons before the abbreviated 2020 season. He is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, which is welcoming after Rosario’s questionable but improving defense.
Carrasco could be the wild card here. He pitched to an excellent 2.91 ERA is 2020, a year after a lost season in which he was diagnosed with leukemia. Before that, he was one of the better under-the-radar starters, routinely posting ERAs at around 3.30 in the prior four seasons and striking out more than 200 batters in three seasons. He should slot in as the number two starter, at least until Noah Syndergaard comes back. Carrasco, though is already 34 years old and is signed for two more years at $12 million per.
Lindor’s contract situation is a bit more murky. He made $17.5 million last season and will be due more than $20 million is his final year of arbitration. Then will come a massive free agent payday. He will probably command a similar $300+ million contract that such younger stars as Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts recently signed. Do the Mets have the stomach for that kind of commitment? We will soon find out how far Cohen wants to dip into his extremely deep pockets.
As far as what this means for further acquisitions, the Mets likely still have money for George Springer. Center field is actually a much bigger need than shortstop, and I think they will sign him. Trevor Bauer, though, now seems more remote with Carrasco in the fold — that is, unless no one else meets his demands and the Mets can get him at a discount, maybe even on the one-year contract Bauer has long discussed.
Or maybe the Mets will sign everyone under the sun, taking advantage of the fact that almost every other team will be cutting back, licking their financial wounds from the 2020 coronavirus season. That is not an issue for the new owner of the Mets, who did not suffer such losses. He can afford to go for it in 2021, outspend everyone and win/buy a championship. I think such a tactic would be all right with Mets fans.