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Francisco Lindor, Mets get first step out of the way, avoid arbitration

In this screen grab taken from video, Mets

In this screen grab taken from video, Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor answers questions during a virtual press conference on Monday. Credit: New York Mets via AP

Francisco Lindor and the Mets are off to a good start in their negotiating relationship. Lindor and the team avoided salary arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a contract that will pay the Mets’ new shortstop $22.3 million in 2021.

Lindor, who had a base salary of $17.5 million in 2020 that was cut to 37% of its value to reflect the 60-game season (as all MLB contracts were), is scheduled to be a free agent after this season.

But the Mets and new owner Steve Cohen didn’t acquire Lindor from Cleveland earlier this month to let him walk after one year in Flushing.

Both sides are interested in exploring a lucrative long-term extension that could top $300 million.

Lindor said during his introductory news conference that he prefers not to negotiate once the season begins.

"I have never negotiated a contract during the season," he said. "Never. I’ve always said either before spring training, but once it gets to a point in spring training, it’s time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning. That’s the only thing I should be focused on — not how much money do I get, how much money do I need to get for my family. No, it’s about focusing on every day, my task."

Lindor’s salary is the fourth-largest by an arbitration-eligible player in MLB history, trailing only Mookie Betts ($27 million, 2020), Nolan Arenado ($26 million, 2019) and Josh Donaldson ($23 million, 2018).

Other arbitration-eligible players who reached agreement with the Mets on Friday include Michael Conforto ($12.25 million), Edwin Diaz ($7 million), Brandon Nimmo ($4.7 million), Seth Lugo ($2.925 million), Dom Smith ($2.55 million) and Robert Gsellman ($1.3 million). They also agreed with Miguel Castro for an unknown amount.

The Mets announced the signings, but not the terms. Salary figures were reported by MLB.com and MLB Network. Friday was the day for players and teams to submit figures for arbitration hearings. It’s rare that players don’t reach an agreement by that deadline.

One Met who did not reach an agreement was third baseman / outfielder J.D. Davis. According to MLB.com, he filed for $2.475 million and the Mets countered at $2.1 million. The sides still can agree before arbitration hearings next month. If not, an arbitrator will set Davis’ 2021 salary.

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