CLEVELAND — Francisco Lindor’s moving to a new city and a new team that is willing to meet his salary demands.
The four-time All-Star shortstop was traded Thursday along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets, who have a new owner willing to spend at baseball’s highest levels.
The cash-strapped Indians sent Lindor and Carrasco to the Mets for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.
Hedge fund owner Steven Cohen bought the Mets on Nov. 6 from the Wilpon and Katz families and has pledged to increase spending. One of his next expenditures figure to be on a long-term contract with Lindor.
The 27-year-old is one of baseball’s best all-around players, capable of winning games with his bat, glove or legs. He’s a career .285 hitter and averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 21 steals in his six major league seasons — all in Cleveland.
He has also been the face of the Indians’ franchise, with an infectious smile and joy for playing that has made him one of Cleveland’s most popular athletes.
Carrasco is one of the game’s best comeback stories, overcoming leukemia to become one of the AL’s steadiest starters. The 33-year-old has a 88-73 career record with a 3.73 ERA.
With an abundance of young pitchers, including Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, the Indians were in position to move a player of Carrasco’s caliber.
He can be replaced. Finding someone to fill Lindor’s shoes will be much tougher.
Once the Indians’ pandemic-shortened 2020 season ended with a loss to the New York Yankees in the wild-card round, it became a matter of when, and not if, Lindor would be traded.
Cleveland had run out of options. Lindor has turned down numerous long-term contract offers from the Indians, betting on himself and knowing he could get more money from a major-market team when he becomes a free agent.
He is only under contract through the 2021 season, so the Mets will have to quickly get to work on locking him up long-term.
The Indians made it known that Lindor was available for the right price. And while it’s never easy to trade a generational talent with perhaps his best years still ahead of him, Cleveland’s financial situation was never going to make it possible to keep him.
Cohen is hoping to turn around a franchise that has not won a World Series since 1986.
Cohen hired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and brought back former GM Sandy Alderson as team president and hired Jared Porter from Arizona as GM under Alderson.
Lindor had $6,481,481 in prorated pay from a $17.5 million salary last year, and is he eligible free agency after the 2021 season.
Carrasco is signed at $12 million in each of the next two seasons, part of a deal that includes a $14 million million team option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout. The option would become guaranteed if he pitches in 170 innings in 2022 and is found to be healthy for the 2023 season.
Since Cohen’s takeover, New York has kept pitcher Marcus Stroman for an $18.9 million qualifying offer, signed right-hander Trevor May to a $15.5 million, two-year contract and catcher James McCann, to a $40.6 million, four-year deal. New York also signed injured right-hander Noah Syndergaard to a $9.7 million, one-year deal.
Rosario is eligible for arbitration for the first time after earning $225,474 prorated from a $608,780 salary.
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