They say if you win the lottery that the money doesn’t solve all of your problems – it just gives you new ones. Me, I’m willing to experience these new problems, so any time Publisher’s Clearinghouse wants to visit my house, that would be great. The Mets won the lottery when the Wilpons sold to Steve Cohen. They finally have a well-funded owner who’s sparing no expense to bring a championship back to Queens.

But we’ve already seen the new problems that money brings. Last year, the Mets traded four players to the Indians to get impending free agent Francisco Lindor along with Carlos Carrasco. It seemed like a great trade. Then the Mets signed Lindor to a mega extension before he ever played a game for the team. Lindor then went out and had an awful first two months for the Mets before being the hitter his baseball card said he would be for the final four months of the season. Carrasco missed around half the year with an injury and then when he did pitch, the results were not good.

This year, Lindor got off to a great start and it looked like maybe we could just write off the first year as part of the Carlos Beltran blues – where a player struggles in Queens in his first season but then goes on to be a star. But after a great first two weeks, Lindor has a .186/.247/.279 line in 97 PA. The hits aren’t falling in and he’s got a Robinson Cano-like ISO. He’s hit the ball hard here lately and weather/ball conditions have probably robbed him of a few knocks. Still, he’s not exactly firing on all cylinders.

Some fans are grumbling about his position in the top third of the batting order. And it seems we’re only a week or so of more bad results before people start lamenting the giant contract the Mets gave him. Cohen can certainly afford it and the big deal didn’t stop the club from signing Max Scherzer to a contract with an even higher average annual value.

But would you rather have Lindor on a 10/$341 deal or Javier Baez on a 6/$140 one? Baez was acquired by the Mets during the season in 2021 and he delivered a 141 OPS+ in 186 PA for the club last season. Baez isn’t duplicating that mark this season but it’s naïve (or arrogant) of us to think that the only team where players struggle after signing a big deal before playing a game for the team is with the Mets.

Back in 2020, the looming story was the upcoming class of free agent shortstops that would hit the market following the 2021 season. In addition to Baez and Lindor, there was Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story.’s Anthony Castrovince said, “never in the history of free agency have five position players from the same exact position entered the process having logged double-digit WAR tallies in the three seasons prior.”

It was probably inevitable that the Mets were going to end up with one of those five players as their shortstop. With Amed Rosario failing to live up to the hype and Andres Gimenez not considered to have anything close to that quintet’s ceiling, Cohen’s checkbook made it seemingly a no-brainer. A little over a year later, we can ask if the Mets made the right choice.

It may surprise you to learn that since the start of the 2021 season, Lindor has the second-highest fWAR of our quintet. FanGraphs recently made a chance to their defensive numbers for WAR, incorporating Statcast numbers into their formula. Lindor was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this change in 2021, which explains his high rating here.

Still, if following the 2020 season, you were told that the Mets were going to get one of the five premier shortstops eligible for free agency following the 2021 campaign and that he would have the second-highest fWAR of the group, you’d probably be happy with that knowledge. But few fans are doing cartwheels over Lindor now.

There’s no better example of money and a new set of problems.

And just to add another layer to the issue is the play this season of Gimenez. One of the Mets’ top prospects, Gimenez made his debut in the Covid year and did better than just about anyone expected, as he put up a 101 OPS+ and a 1.2 fWAR in 49 games as a 21 year old. He was part of the package the Mets sent to get Lindor. Everyone understood that there’d be no place for him to play and so no one complained about his inclusion in the deal.

Gimenez was even worse than Lindor last year, as he managed just a 73 OPS+ and was sent back to the minors. But it’s been a different story this year. While alternating between second base and shortstop, Gimenez has a 168 OPS+, with 12 XBH, including 4 HR, in 96 PA. He also has a +4 DRS at 2B and a +2 at SS, meaning he’s getting the job done quite nicely on defense, too. And he’s doing this at age 23 on a pre-arb salary.

It’s way too soon to declare Lindor a bust and the trade a poor one. No one would have intentionally walked Gimenez to pitch to Pete Alonso, like what happened with Lindor on Sunday. And despite his early season power outburst, few would expect Gimenez to provide more slugging than Lindor in the long haul.

But with this “what have you done for me lately” mindset that prevails in the fanbase, there’s enough to be uncomfortable with the early returns from the big Lindor trade and extension. Is it fair to Lindor? No, not in the slightest. But it would probably be in his best interest to start delivering the type of performance in the field and at the plate that made the Mets trade for him in the first place.

4 comments on “Revisiting the trade and extension for Francisco Lindor

  • Wobbit

    It was fairly clear to me that Gimenez was special. The kid was legit on the field even as a rookie in the Big Apple. He made a difference in the games, hit line drives, and simply needed seasoning that playing time would provide. Besides dumping huge salaries, the Cleveland team took our single best young player along with a decent, still-developing Rosario. They will make that trade 100 times out of 100 opportunities.

    I’m one of those fans griping about Lindor’s place in the lineup. Not that he can’t hit top 3. I can see him carrying a heavy load at times, when he becomes locked-in and seeing the ball. He has the ability, and he causes problems for the opposing pitching staffs. I’m opposed to him automatically residing at number 2 or 3. It smacks of preferential treatment, often undeserved. Too often. Automatic, preferential treatment hurts ball clubs and ties managers’ hands.

    As I said recently on this site, I’ve seen too many offensive opportunities die with Lindor’s whiffing at breaking balls or making very soft contact. Just not enough line drives from the number 3 hole. Not enough dependability… think DMattingly or KHernandez just staying close to home…

    If you hide the names and analyze the merits of players on the numbers alone, I find it hard to believe Lindor would hold that exalted position in the batting order. Nimmo might look best at number three… or maybe Marte (still underperforming) or even JD (leading exit-veto guy). Even Canha might present more unique problems to pitchers working through jams…

    If Lindor has a fragile ego that Buck and the FO are trying to coddle, we’re screwed. Expensive, mediocre, and a basket case… all for only 341 million!

  • T.J.

    Cohen clearly paid a premium on the Linder deal, but such is life as a high rolling big market owner. Time will tell if the smelts get the value, but we all know going in That the majority of these deals don’t work out baseball production-wise.

    Regarding the #3 spot, there is only so long a line up can be bogged down by lack of production in that spot. Buck was hired for these type of decisions.

  • JamesTOB

    My biggest problem with the trade was the length of the contract. When we get to the last three years (and maybe sooner), we’ll be in Robinson Cano territory. With so many shortstops becoming available in free agency, I think the Mets should have used that to leverage Lindor down to five or six years.

  • Metsense

    The trade was good because they were going to get a Bassitt type pitcher for the next two or three years in Carrasco. They also got a premium shortstop for one year at a reasonable rate. By the next year they would have their pick of premium shortstops in the free agent market.
    At the time of the extension it was ill advised. It would have been a buyer’s market. Instead they set the standard for and market. The extension was too many years and overpriced.
    As for the batting order, Lindor is still one of the 5 best hitters on the team. He is also second best power hitter on the team. He should be batting either 2nd or 5th.
    Right now, Lindor is a disappointment because he was a 4.8-5.5 bWAR player and he isn’t fulfilling his potential.

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