A new era is dawning for the New York Mets, and the club is betting hundreds of millions of dollars that Francisco Lindor is just the player to serve as its centerpiece.
Lindor and the Mets agreed to terms Wednesday night on a 10-year, $341 million contract extension, tying the recently acquired All-Star shortstop to the club into the next decade and giving new owner Steve Cohen the splash he desired.
A baseball offical with direct knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Lindor and the Mets agreed to terms on an extension, beating by mere hours Lindor’s self-imposed opening day deadline.
The official spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet official.
Lindor, 27, is a four-time All-Star whose 138 home runs are the most by a shortstop since 2015. After a December trade from the Cleveland Indians, who showed little inclination to tender Lindor a market-value extension offer, they dealt him to the Mets, who were just weeks into new management under the deep-pocketed Cohen.
FACE OF BASEBALL: 21-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. ready to take up the mantle
MLB 2021:Fun facts and milestones for the new baseball season
Lindor was set to join a star-studded free agent class after this season, but the Mets’ failed forays to sign free agents such as George Springer and Trevor Bauer opened up both capital and motivation to retain Lindor.
And as a de facto deadline of Thursday’s opening day loomed, Cohen and Lindor’s camp engaged in a relatively rapid back-and-forth that got the deal done before Lindor stepped on the field for the Mets in a game that mattered.
A Sunday dinner meeting with Cohen and Lindor in Florida resulted in a Mets offer of 10 years and $315 million, with no deferred money, and a counteroffer from Lindor’s camp at 12 years and $385 million, all with the occasionally cheeky tweet from the owner before the sides arrived at an agreement that will fulfill everyone’s wishes:
Lindor, the highest-paid shortstop in major league history, at least for now.
And Cohen and the Mets, with a seemingly universally adored superstar now at the center of what they hope will be a very bright future.
Their commitment to Lindor, including this year’s $22.1 million salary in his final year of arbitration eligibility, is 11 years and $363.3 million, topping Fernando Tatis Jr.’s $340 million commitment from the San Diego Padres. The average annual value of his extension is also a record for a shortstop.
The agreement marks the second time in three years the Mets signed a generational talent to an extension just before Opening Day. In March 2019, Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million extension just two days before the Mets’ opener. He went on to win a second consecutive Cy Young Award and finished third in an abbreviated 2020 season.
The Mets would certainly welcome a similarly quick return on investment on their new franchise player.