MLB Rumors: Latest on Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rizzo Contract Extension Talks

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 28, 2021

MLB Rumors: Latest on Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rizzo Contract Extension Talks

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Teams across MLB are still working to extend star players.

    The Houston Astros offered shortstop Carlos Correa an extension in the neighborhood of six years and $120 million. But Correa appears more likely to hit free agency after calling the offer "really low," per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.

    But while the 'Stros might have to wait until free agency to lock up Correa, the New York Mets could be gaining ground in extension talks with their own star shortstop.

    Here is the latest on New York's push to extend Francisco Lindor, as well as the Chicago Cubs' negotiations with first baseman Anthony Rizzo and news regarding another Mets star headed for free agency in 2022.

Mets Working Hard on Lindor Extension

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Mets were always taking on a bit of risk in trading for Lindor given his free agency was on the horizon. But New York's front office is getting aggressive in trying to get a deal done before Opening Day.

    Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Mets have "hope" when it comes to signing Lindor, saying the deal figures to be in excess of $300 million in guaranteed money.

    It's hardly a surprise the Mets are eager to get a deal done. They probably wouldn't have pulled off a blockbuster move had they not been confident about their ability to extend the superstar shortstop. The potential value does not come as much of a surprise, either.

    San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year extension worth $340 million in February. That elevated Lindor's market substantially considering the 27-year-old has been one of the best players at his position for some time.

    Lindor ranks first in fWAR among shortstops since 2015. He is a two-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger who can hit for average and power from both sides of the dish. He can also steal bases and make an impact with his speed.

    Opening Day is just around the corner. But Heyman suggested there is optimism a deal gets done before then as the Mets look to make Lindor their franchise cornerstone.

Still a Gap Between Cubs, Rizzo in Extension Talks

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Whereas Lindor is a newcomer in New York, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been a staple in Chicago.

    Rizzo was essentially the first piece meant to kickstart Chicago's rebuild when the Cubs acquired him from the San Diego Padres in January 2012. With the 31-year-old scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, Chicago is trying to ensure Rizzo remains in the Windy City.

    Heyman reported the Cubs have made Rizzo an extension offer, that there is a "gap" between the two sides but that the parties are continuing to talk before the start of the season. However, ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported an extension might not get done.

    The Cubs have every incentive to extend Rizzo, who has became a fan favorite since arriving in Chicago. He made his first All-Star team just two years later and endured multiple losing seasons before the Cubs ended their World Series drought in 2016.

    Rizzo has made three All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves in addition to four straight seasons of 31-plus homers from 2014 to 2017. He also ranks second to only Mike Trout in win probability added (WPA) since 2014.

    Rizzo is one of three members of the Cubs core, including Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, slated for free agency at the end of the 2021 season. But he might be the most likely to sign an extension because of his consistent excellence and status as a franchise staple.

New York Less Likely to Extend Michael Conforto

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Mets appear to be building toward an extension with Lindor. However, a deal with star outfielder Michael Conforto looks less likely.

    Heyman reported the Mets made an extension offer to Conforto but added there was not a ton of "optimism" a deal would get done prior to Opening Day. Conforto himself confirmed the talks, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, and stated his desire to remain in New York.

    Conforto's star has risen in recent seasons after he made the National League All-Star team in 2017. He hit a career-high 32 homers and posted an .856 OPS in 2019 and then hit .322 with nine homers and a career-high 153 OPS+ in 2020.

    The 28-year-old ranks 10th in fWAR among outfielders since 2017 and 14th in weighted runs created plus (wRC+) in that same span. He has been the Mets' most productive outfield bat for some time.

    However, New York's focus on Lindor might be paramount. The Mets have other internal free agents in 2022, including Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. Conforto might well be among them at the end of the season.

                        

    All stats obtained via Baseball Reference or FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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