Detroit Tigers won’t have to face Indians’ star Francisco Lindor anymore after Mets trade

Detroit Free Press

Bob Nightengale

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It’s a good day for the Detroit Tigers.

The Cleveland Indians have owned the Tigers in recent seasons, but just weakened their team Thursday.

The New York Mets have acquired All-Star Francisco Lindor from Cleveland, ending the long-anticipated saga of the dynamic shortstop’s trade from a club that all but admitted it could not afford to keep him.

The Mets will also receive starter Carlos Carrasco in return for shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, starter Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.

The Tigers open the 2021 season hosting Cleveland on April 1 at Comerica Park, one of 19 games between the American Central division opponents. The Tigers do not play the Mets in 2021.

In 89 career games vs. the Tigers, the 27-year-old Lindor has 17 home runs — tied for his second-most vs. any opponent — and 57 RBIs with a .285 batting average.

Carrasco, 33, is 12-9 with a 3.56 ERA vs. the Tigers over 31 games (25 starts).

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This is the first blockbuster move under new owner Steve Cohen, who purchased the Mets for $2.4 billion in September and, with an estimated net worth of more than $14 billion, was expected to transform the Mets into big spenders.

But his first major splash came in the trade market, setting the Mets up for a crucial 2021.

Lindor is eligible for free agency after the season, and leads a sterling class of available shortstops that includes his good friend Javier Baez, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Travis Story. 

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Negotiations on a long-term deal with Cleveland never gained much traction, unsurprising given the Indians’ aversion to tying up significant payroll in one player. Now, the Mets will have exclusive negotiating rights through the World Series, and while Lindor may be inclined to test the market since he’s come this close to free agency, a massive preemptive offer from Cohen could change that sentiment.

Lindor, outfielder Michael Conforto and starting pitchers Marcus Stroman, Stephen Matz and Noah Syndergaard – who could return from Tommy John surgery in the second half – all are free agents after this season. Carrasco, an 88-game winner over 11 seasons, is under contract through 2022, with a 2023 club option.

The deal should take the Mets out of the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, but they remain involved in talks for free agent center fielder George Springer. They signed catcher James McCann to a four-year, $40 million deal last month.

The Indians, meanwhile, continue a retrenching that has seen them trade talent like pitchers Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger in recent years as they’ve approached free agency. Cleveland has reached the playoffs in four out of the past five seasons, finishing 35-25 in a shortened 2020 before a two-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees in the wild-card round.

While Rosario is the most known quantity in their return for Lindor and Carrasco, Gimenez, 22, may be the prize of the bunch. A shortstop who hits the ball very hard, Gimenez posted a .732 OPS in his debut season with the Mets.

Greene, 19, was the Mets’ second-round pick, 69th overall, in the 2020 draft; he has yet to play in an official minor-league game. 

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