Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco Traded to Mets from Cleveland in Blockbuster

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2021

Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor (12) plays the field during a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. The Indians won 4-2. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

The New York Mets announced Thursday they acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in return for Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene.

Many wondered how Steve Cohen would operate in his first offseason since purchasing the Mets from the Wilpon family. This move represents a statement of intent from Cohen.

Cleveland, meanwhile, continues to tear down a roster responsible for three straight division titles from 2016 to 2018 and a wild-card berth in 2020.

Rosario figures to be Cleveland's everyday shortstop in 2021 with Lindor gone. He's a .268 career hitter and boasts a .403 slugging percentage. Likely of particular importance to Cleveland's front office, the 25-year-old is under team control through the 2023 season.

Gimenez debuted in the majors in 2020, finishing with three home runs, 12 RBI and a .263/.333/.398 slash line. He played at short, second and third, so his defensive versatility will come in handy.

MLB.com ranked Wolf as the No. 9 prospect in New York's minor league organization. A second-round pick in the 2019 draft, the right-handed pitcher allowed three earned runs over eight innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2019. Greene, a 19-year-old outfielder, was the club's 10th-best prospect behind Wolf and has yet to make his minor league debut.

Many expected Lindor to head elsewhere before Opening Day, but Carrasco's inclusion is a big surprise. The 33-year-old right-hander has consistently been one of Cleveland's best pitchers and went 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 12 appearances this past season.

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Carrasco is also under contract through 2023, so Cleveland didn't have to worry about losing him to free agency anytime soon.

The Mets have a projected starting rotation that includes Carrasco, Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. Even with Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John surgery, that's a formidable unit.

Lindor finished 2020 hitting .258/.335/.415 with eight home runs, a down year for one of the best all-around players in baseball. 

The 27-year-old entered last year with four straight All-Star selections while getting MVP votes in each year, adding two Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Gloves. 

He is just one season removed from posting a .284 batting average, .854 OPS, 32 home runs and 22 stolen bases. The switch-hitter is an above-average defender at a premium position, helping Cleveland remain in the playoff hunt seemingly every year, including its 2016 run to the World Series.

Despite his success, the club moved on with just one year remaining on his contract.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported in early November the team wanted to trade him before Opening Day 2021 because it was "strapped for money."

The franchise seemingly had no interest in signing the shortstop to an extension, with owner Paul Dolan discussing the limited future in March 2019.

"Enjoy him," Dolan said to fans, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. "We control him for three more years. Enjoy him, and then we'll see what happens."

Cleveland fans didn't get the three full years to enjoy him. But the deal at least helps restock the farm system in a rebuild that began with trades of pitchers Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger over the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, the Mets add elite talents to help them compete for a playoff spot. The squad has gone four years without playing in October but came close in the last couple of years.

The addition of Lindor in particular represents a boost to all phases of the game, especially strengthening a lineup led by Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto. The below-average team defense also gets a reliable fielder up the middle.

It could be enough to help New York contend in the increasingly difficult NL East.