WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Francisco Lindor got his first hit as a Met on Monday, a deflected infield single in a spring training game against the Nationals.
He soon might get something a little more important than that.
The Mets and Lindor will begin talks on a contract extension this week, a source confirmed on Monday.
Lindor could end up with a deal worth more than $300 million. The 27-year-old shortstop, who will be a free agent after the season if he doesn’t agree to a new contract, has said he does not want to negotiate once the season starts on April 1.
The Mets acquired Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco on Jan. 7 in a six-player trade with Cleveland. At the time — and every time they have been asked since — Mets executives said they didn’t make the trade thinking they had to sign Lindor to a long-term extension.
"With respect to Lindor, we made the trade," Mets president Sandy Alderson said recently. "That doesn’t mean necessarily that we are guaranteed to have him long term. But I think we’re committed to talking about it."
It would be a major upset if Lindor doesn’t end up with a chunk of billionaire owner Steve Cohen’s money before the Mets open the season in Washington.
The sides already concluded a successful negotiation on Lindor’s salary for this season when they avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $22.3 million deal.
The San Diego Padres recently signed 22-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million extension. The Padres also have Manny Machado, who signed a 10-year, $300 million deal in 2019.
Lindor responded very positively to the news of Tatis’ deal, saying on Feb. 22: "I’m extremely happy for him. He deserves it. His family deserves it. And that shows the game is headed in the right direction. There’s two $300 million players on the same team. So the game’s headed in the right direction."
Lindor’s talks could end up being similar to those of the Dodgers and Mookie Betts last year. The Dodgers acquired Betts from the Red Sox before his free-agent walk year, signed him to a 12-year, $365 million extension and won the World Series.
Mets fans would love a repeat of that scenario, but this time in Flushing.
The Mets adore Lindor’s personality as much as his game. In his last public comments, on Thursday during an ESPN in-game interview, Lindor said the feeling is mutual.
"So far it’s been great," he said. "We have a great group of guys here and we like to enjoy our jobs on a daily basis."
On Monday, Lindor picked up his first hit of spring training after starting out 0-for-7. The ball was a comebacker that deflected off the glove of Washington pitcher Luis Avilan and trickled out to shortstop, and Lindor easily beat the throw from Trea Turner. He also had a single to left in the fifth as part of his 2-for-3 afternoon.
Lindor, a four-time All-Star, had a down year in 2020. He hit .258 with eight home runs, 27 RBIs and a .750 OPS, playing in all of Cleveland’s 60 regular-season games.
In 2019, he had a more representative season, hitting .284 with 32 home runs, 74 RBIs and an .854 OPS. He also stole 22 bases and earned his second Gold Glove.
Lindor is as complete a player as there is in baseball, and Alderson has raved about adding his star power to the New York market. It makes sense that the Mets would want to keep him around for a good long while.
If that happens, the Mets are expected to turn their attention to trying to lock down homegrown star Michael Conforto, who also will be a free agent after the season if he doesn’t agree to a contract extension.
Alderson also has indicated a willingness to explore an extension with Noah Syndergaard, who is returning from Tommy John surgery and also will be a free agent after the season.
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