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.
Such status seemed like a distant dream Wednesday as the Mets lost, 12-5, to the Red Sox in a game that effectively ended in the second inning when Kyle Schwarber hit his second homer. Baez, though, was a relative highlight for the Mets, going 1-for-2 with a walk, a steal and a run.
"I know Javy does fit in in what we’re trying to accomplish here," Lindor said near the end of batting practice. "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."
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 part of a big batch of big-time shortstops seeking megadeals this offseason. Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien also will be free agents.
Since joining the Mets (73-79) at the trade deadline, Baez has been very productive, hitting. 307 with a .938 OPS in 39 games. 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. The Mets 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."
Instead, the Mets’ season has devolved into a debacle.
They lost for the seventh time in eight games after Taijuan Walker was crushed for six runs in two innings, upping his second-half ERA to 7.74 and season ERA to 4.57. The Red Sox (88-65) added another six runs in four innings against Trevor Williams.
Schwarber (3-for-4, four RBIs) ended his season series against the Mets with nine homers in 10 games, most of that damage coming in June with the Nationals. Baez struck out swinging on a slider from Chris Sale (five innings, two runs) that wound up hitting him in the back ankle. Jonathan Villar made the last out of the sixth at third base when the Mets were down by eight.
"We didn’t play a good game," manager Luis Rojas said.
The Mets have 10 games remaining.
"I came here to win. It sucks that we’re not in that position where we are in first place," Lindor said. "We get paid to win ballgames, and I haven’t done that this year."
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