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Francisco Lindor contract watch continues as Mets and shortstop swap offers

The Mets' Francisco Lindor in a spring training

The Mets' Francisco Lindor in a spring training game against the Washington Nationals on March 21 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

Mets spring training is over. Francisco Lindor Contract Extension Watch 2021 is not.

With about two days left until the Lindor-imposed deadline for the sides to agree to a deal, Lindor and the Mets remained far apart in those talks as of late Monday night, a source said.

The Mets offered their shortstop $325 million over 10 years, numbers characterized by the team as its "best and final" offer, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. But Lindor, 27, already has told them no.

The counteroffer from Lindor’s camp, the source said: $385 million over 12 years.

"Lindor is a heckuva player and a great guy," owner Steve Cohen tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "I hope he decides to sign."

That is a slightly smaller average annual value but a longer term and a significantly higher total dollar commitment. It would be the second-largest contract in MLB history behind Mike Trout’s 12 years and $426.5 million.

That is the context in which the Mets headed to Washington on Monday evening, camp concluded with a 3-3 tie with the Cardinals. They will work out at Nationals Park on Tuesday and open the season against the Nationals on Thursday, the start of Cohen’s first season as owner.

Cohen, though, has some other business to tend to before then. Lindor has said he will not negotiate once Opening Day arrives. If he isn’t locked up by then, he is content to go to free agency after the season, he has said since January.

"We have a deadline Mar 31, today is the 29th," Cohen tweeted Monday in response to a fan asking if a Lindor extension will happen. "It either will or won’t in the next two days."

Another fan chimed in: "This is not as funny as I think you think it is."

"I’m not being funny, it’s the absolute truth," wrote Cohen, who had dinner with Lindor on Saturday. "If I knew the answer, I would report it."

Such is the Mets’ reality. These next couple of days, when they won’t so much as play a game during the gray area between spring training and the regular season, might be among the most important in recent franchise history.

Like everyone else, Lindor’s teammates are waiting to see what happens.

"I think it’s going to work out. I think everyone knows it’s going to work out," said Taijuan Walker, who allowed two runs in five innings in his final preseason tuneup. "But it’s not something that we really talk about in the clubhouse. Our main focus is baseball, going out there to play baseball. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing."

Brandon Nimmo added: "I would love to be his teammate for a long, long time. But he gets to make those decisions. We want what’s best for him and the club."

In the meantime, the Mets can find satisfaction in escaping Florida with their top priority — health — preserved.

Only three players suffered injuries during camp that will sideline them to start the season. Most notably, righthander Carlos Carrasco strained his right hamstring, which is expected to cost him at least April. Bench bat Jose Martinez is out for the entire first half after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Reliever Drew Smith is dealing with what the Mets have referred to publicly as a sore shoulder.

All things considered, that is not too bad of a health bill coming out of spring training.

"I think it was mission accomplished," manager Luis Rojas said. "Getting into the shape we want and getting out of here healthy. I can talk for the guys: We can’t wait for Thursday to come and get things going."

The workout Tuesday and a day off Wednesday will give the Mets time to acclimate to the early-spring weather, as opposed to hot and humid Florida. The Washington weather forecast for Thursday calls for temperatures peaking in the mid-40s and the likelihood of rain. It’ll be colder by 7:09 p.m. game time.

But it’ll be better than spring training.

"I know everyone is ready," Walker said, "to get out of here."

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