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Francisco Lindor says 'of course' Mets' Steve Cohen has money to sign Javier Baez

Mets second baseman Javier Baez and shortstop Francisco

Mets second baseman Javier Baez and shortstop Francisco Lindor talk between innings during an MLB game against the Phillies at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

BOSTON — Count Francisco Lindor among those who want the Mets to sign Javier Baez to a long-term contract this offseason.

Lindor has not discussed that possibility with owner Steve Cohen or president Sandy Alderson, he said, but he is confident that Baez, his longtime friend and recent double-play partner, would help the Mets become a perennial contender.

"I know Javy does fit in in what we’re trying to accomplish here," Lindor said Wednesday evening, near the end of batting practice and before the Mets played the Red Sox. "He’s a winner. He plays the game as hard as he can day in and day out. He gives it his best. He’s my boy, too, so that helps. But at the end of the day, I know what he’s capable of doing. We’ve all seen it. His approach has been outstanding, and he definitely has helped us win a couple of more games in September for sure."

Does Cohen have the money to afford Baez, having already committed $341 million over 10 years to Lindor? They may well make for a half-billion dollar middle infield.

 

"Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah," said Lindor, increasingly loudly and with a laugh, lightheartedly incredulous at the question about an owner worth an estimated $14 billion. "Of course. Of course."

Baez is among the Mets’ notable free agents, a list that includes homegrown standouts Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto as well as Marcus Stroman, who has been by far the most reliable starting pitcher on the team, and Aaron Loup, Jonathan Villar and others.

On the open market, Baez will have quite a bit of competition among shortstops seeking mega-deals. Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien also will be free agents.

Since joining the Mets at the trade deadline, Baez has been very productive, posting a .304 average and .933 OPS in 38 games heading into play Wednesday. His bat has been particularly hot in recent weeks, helping turn his and Lindor’s thumbs-down controversy last month into less of a big deal.

Lindor has been better, too, for much of that stretch. His .245/.324/.500 slash line in the second half is an improvement over the first-half version of .225/.325/.373.

Overall, though, this year still qualifies as the worst of his career.

"You say I have better numbers, I feel better at the plate," Lindor said. "I haven’t really looked at the numbers. If you look at the boxscore every time in late September, the numbers don’t really change much.

"So I don’t know. I feel good. I feel like I’m helping the team, whether it’s with a quality at-bat or driving in runs, which I didn’t do the first two, three months of the year."

That has not prevented the Mets from a late-season debacle, however. They are approaching mathematical elimination from the playoffs, a fate for which Lindor feels partially responsible, noting: "I put a lot on me, yes. I put a lot on me."

"I felt like we had a really good team coming into this year. It has collapsed, and I haven’t performed especially," he said. "If I would’ve played a little bit better, I know we could’ve won at least five to seven more games, so we’d be fighting for first place right now.

"I came here to win. It sucks that we’re not in that position where we are in first place. That sucks for sure. But I think we still got a little bit of fight left in us, which I love that. Being in September and still competing, it’s good. But it sucks that we’re not in first place.

"We get paid to win ballgames, and I haven’t done that this year."

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