Mr. Smile metes Mr. Met as Fransisco Lindor was traded to the New York Mets from Cleveland a couple weeks ago. The Mets’ ownership changed hands recently which is usually a good indication things are going to begin operating differently. The new brass signaled right away that would be the case as New York looks to get off the treadmill of mediocrity and enter serious contention. Here are the full details of the deal:
New York receives: Franciso Lindor, Carlos Carrasco
Cleveland receives: Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Josh Wolf, and Isaiah Greene
For the Mets, this is a great trade. Lindor is one of the more talented players at a premier position in the league and he just turned 27. He is a four-time All-Star and has won the Gold Glove twice in his career. There are a couple points of contention worth mentioning. He has dealt with a calf injury over the past couple of years and he is set to hit the free agency market after the 2021 season. Someone like him is bound to have a number of teams vying for his services so he could leave after one season, which would be problematic for the Mets. The injury is a bit concerning also because it has obviously affected his play and it has lingered for a couple of years. An injury to the calf can be tricky; there isn’t any real treatment option besides rest and that doesn’t always work. With that being said, this guy is one of the few players that’s a serious MVP candidate from one year to the next. The best way I can describe his game is that he’s a switch-hitting version of prime Barry Larkin. Who wouldn’t want that?
I don’t think we can ignore the other piece heading to New York even though he is being looked as a salary dump by Cleveland. Carlos Carrasco has had a long and successful career. He has dealt with missing time due to several health issues, but he was healthy last season and looked fantastic. He is still owed a good chunk of change over the next few years, but he adds tremendous depth to the team’s rotation. The Mets already have Jacob DeGrom at the front of the rotation and now have two All-Star caliber studs behind him in Syndergaard and Cookie. That’s a trio no one wants to mess with. While Lindor is obviously the bigger get in this deal, fans of the Mets should be very happy to get a guy like Carrasco as well.
There are some trades that don’t have a definite winner and loser. This is not one of those deals. Cleveland gets demonstratively worse in this deal and I’m not exactly in love with the prospects they got back. Amed Rosario is the only proven player Cleveland gets back and I don’t know how happy people should be about that. Rosario has hit around .270 for his career which is good, but he hasn’t been that great in any other aspect. He doesn’t walk much or provide a ton of power so he’s completely reliant on his ability to get hits. His defense has been up and down, which puts more pressure on the bat as well. He’s capable of handling shortstop, but it’s a definite downgrade compared to Lindor. His stolen base numbers are maybe the most troubling thing to me. For as fast as he is, he isn’t a great stolen base threat. He gets the job done, but it’s not all that impressive. Amed was a top prospect with all the tools to be great and he just hasn’t figured out how to do that yet. He’s a middle-of-the-road shortstop in my opinion.
Andres Gimenez got some playing time last season with the Mets and he played pretty well. Through the first 10 games or so he looked like he was going to run away with the Rookie of the Year, but that faded with time. Gimenez has some skills, but I’m not in love with the type of player he is. Much like Rosario, he does walk much and he doesn’t have much power. He relies on getting hits consistently which is one of the hardest things to do in baseball. He’s a solid defender who can play across the infield and I bet he supplants Cesar Hernandez at second this season. He has good wheels and uses them well. I just have a hard time seeing him be good enough to make up for the loss of Lindor. There’s a chance he bottoms out as teams figure out how to pitch to him and he ends up having a career similar to former Red Jose Peraza. If he can hit, he can play. I just have a hard time seeing him be that good of a hitter.
The other pieces changing hands are interesting. Josh Wolf is a right-handed pitcher who stands 6’3” with plenty of room to add weight. The 20 year old flashes serious upside with his fastball and slider. The heater can get up to 96 mph while the slider is deceptive with some nice late life. He has started to throw a changeup more often last year and it has some potential. Cleveland has done a tremendous job of developing young pitchers over the years and Wolf could be next in line if everything works out. Isaiah Greene is an athletic left-handed outfielder with a nice feel for hitting. He was picked as a second round selection in the 2020 MLB Draft and looks like someone who could develop into an everyday player in time. As he continues to mature, it will be interesting to see how much power he develops. His defense should be good enough for him to be a solid corner outfielder and he has the speed to steal bases. If the hit tool is as good as people say and he is able to add strength to his frame, he could be an All-Star someday.
This deal reminds me of the one Boston executed last season when they traded away Mookie. It makes Cleveland much worse in the here-and-now without them getting a prize prospect in return. Cleveland has been very public about the desire to shed salary as they have traded away some of their best, and more pricier, players. It seemed evident that the team wasn’t going to resign Lindor so they had to trade him. It makes business sense, but it doesn’t make actual sense. I may be crazy, but I would want to be competitive if I were the owner of a sports franchise. Cleveland’s owner, Paul Dolan, wants to cite that the team is in a small market and that the pandemic has caused serious financial losses that brought this about. Some of that is true, but it doesn’t excuse not fielding a competitive team.