In one blockbuster move, the Mets become World Series contenders after acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco
Remember when New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson said they were more than one player away, and it could take years before they were serious World Series contenders?
That was two months ago.
Well, on Thursday, everything changed.
The Mets are officially World Series contenders and a serious threat to dethrone the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
The Mets acquired one of the top players in all of baseball, landing four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, along with veteran starter Carlos Carrasco while sending shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, minor league pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene to Cleveland.
Oh, the Mets still are also engaged with free-agent center fielder George Springer and free-agent closer Liam Hendriks, and have had recent trade talks with the Chicago Cubs for third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant.
Yeah, the Mets are back.
Francisco Lindor is a four-time All-Star shortstop. (Photo: Ken Blaze, Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
And for Cleveland, well, it may be the perfect day to announce your new nickname.
Cleveland owner Paul Dolan told his front office he needed to shed payroll, and they certainly did that. Cleveland, which had reached the postseason four of the past five years, whacked about $67 million off their payroll. Carrasco is still owed $27 million on his contract and Lindor expected to command about $20 million in salary arbitration this year.
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This is a team that was in the World Series four years ago, won 91 games in 2018 with four pitchers who started at least 25 games with Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Carrasco. And now they’re all gone, along with any hopes of contending.
“It resonates with me personally,’’ Cleveland president Chris Antonetti said. “I was in tears in the conversation with Carlos and Francisco. And they were as well.’’
In New York, well, the Mets have become the new Yankees.
They are stealing the back-page headlines.
Just when frustration was building in the Mets’ fanbase, signing only free agent catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May for a total of $55.5 million, along came Thursday’s news that rocked New York.
It’s the East Coast version of last year’s Los Angeles Dodgers’ trade when they tried to land Lindor, pivoted, traded for Mookie Betts, signed him to a record 12-year, $365 million contract before opening day, and watched him lead them to their first World Series championship since 1988.
Yes, Lindor could have that kind of impact, too.
Really, Lindor is made for New York with his outgoing charisma and charm, let alone surreal talent.
You’re talking about a player who has won two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and ranks third in the majors since 2017 with 258 extra-base hits and 359 runs, and ranking fifth with 592 hits to go along with 111 homers and 68 stolen bases. The only players who have ranked higher than his 47.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), according to FanGraphs, is Betts and free-agent shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Certainly, he’ll be a blessing for a starting rotation that could be the best in the National League with two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard (in the second half), and now, Carrasco.
Carrasco, 33, who led the American League with 18 victories in 2017, ranked seventh with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 82 in 68 innings.
It has been five years since the Mets were last in the playoffs, 35 years since they last won the World Series, but on Thursday, hope finally arrived in Queens.
Atlanta still is the team to beat in the NL East, and the NL pennant still runs through Los Angeles, but after what the Mets accomplished Thursday, anything now is quite possible.
The Mets are for real, and awfully dangerous.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
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