Mets acquire Francisco Lindor, foreshadowing the luxury life possible with Steve Cohen as owner

This is the way the Mets are supposed to act, the way they should have acted under the Wilpon-Katz ownership, the way they clearly will act under Steve Cohen.

Team president Sandy Alderson explained the difference of operating under new owner Steve Cohen and previous owners.

“We now emphasize the acquisition, rather than the cost.”

The Mets certainly did that on Thursday in their trade with the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco. They weren’t worried about possibly losing Lindor to free agency after one year, or giving up too much prospect value. And if they lock up Lindor the way the Dodgers locked up Mookie Betts after acquiring him last February, this deal will look even better.

Keeping Lindor long-term certainly appears to be the Mets’ plan, and it’s entirely possible their next move will be to stack free-agent outfielder George Springer on top of their earlier free-agent haul – right-hander Marcus Stroman, who accepted a qualifying offer, reliever Trevor May and catcher James McCann.

The Mets under Cohen are moving fast but diligently. They laid out a plan and have executed it to a tee thus far.

The Cohen Mets are what everyone thought they would be, a threat not only to the rest of the NL East, but also to the Yankees’ pre-eminence in New York.

This is what Mets fans wanted to see, their team acting like a big-market team. Whether all this translates to success, even short-term, is an open question. But at least the Mets finally are operating in accordance with their market size, something fans have been clamoring for since the turn of the century.

Lindor, 27, regressed offensively in the shortened ’20 season, but he hardly was alone in that regard, and still might be one of the top 10 players in the game.

For his career, Lindor has hit .285 with a .346 on-base percentage and .833 OPS. He averaged 34 home runs a season from 2017 to 2019 and 20 steals a season from 2016 to 2019. He played in all 60 of Cleveland’s games last season, and he’s missed a total of 32 games since making his debut six years ago.

Not since the Mets acquired Johan Santana in 2008 have they brought in a player as talented as Lindor. The 27-year-old has been one of the game’s very best players since debuting with Cleveland in 2015. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting that season and in the top 10 of MVP balloting in each of the next three years. He’s won two Gold Gloves at short.

Add it all up, and Lindor should be the best two-way position player the Mets have had since David Wright was in his prime.

“He’s a great defender, a great baserunner, a great hitter. Very charismatic, high-energy player. I think his teammates feed off of that. I think he feeds off of it, too. He likes playing and performing in the biggest moments as often as he can,” Mets GM Jared Porter said.

“There are some players that you watch and you appreciate. There are other players that you watch and you smile,” added Alderson. “Lindor is the kind of player that makes one smile.”

Lindor strengthens several weaknesses for the Mets. He’ll be their first regular switch-hitter in the lineup since Asdrúbal Cabrera was traded in 2018, and he’s been very good against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

He’ll be the anchor for what has been a perpetually poor defense. The Mets have been the worst defensive team in baseball over the last four seasons, a stretch over which Lindor has been one of the game’s most valuable defenders. With Lindor taking over at short and the potential of having Smith and McNeil on the right side of the infield, the Mets could have their best defensive infield in a long time.

Lindor was not the only player the Mets acquired in the deal.

Carlos Carrasco, 33, also makes his way to Queens. Carrasco has overcome heart problems and leukemia to remain a quality starting pitcher, producing a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts in ’20. Carrasco has been one of the American League’s best and steadiest pitchers over the last seven years, compiling a 3.41 ERA in over 1,000 innings and twice garnering Cy Young votes.

Carrasco will turn 34 in March and is owed $27 million over the next two seasons, with a club option for 2023. His acquisition helps fill a need in the rotation now and moving forward, with both Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman slated to be free agents after this season.

The Mets have had a flawless offseason thus far and have drastically changed the perception of the franchise.

“What we’re trying to do,” team president Sandy Alderson said on Thursday, “is change the reality and let the perception follow. We think this is a significant move for us.”

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