The free agency market remains cold.
The trade market is a different story.
A little over a week after the Padres acquired aces Blake Snell and Yu Darvish in trades, the Mets got in on the fun on Thursday; acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in exchange for Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene.
Let's take a look at the implications of this deal from both clubs, as this blockbuster creates drastic changes for both franchises both in 2021 and the coming years.
The headliner is of course Lindor, a player who has been worth the fifth-most WAR in baseball over the last five seasons. The 27-year-old is coming off his worst year in the majors; hitting .258/.335/.415 with eight homers and six steals over 266 plate appearances. The sample here is obviously much smaller, and it'd be foolish to judge a player of his age and production on that campaign. The year before, he hit 32 homers, stole 22 bases and posted an .854 OPS while also providing well above-average defense at a premium position.
Lindor's place in the lineup shouldn't be questioned. While his power is undeniable, his skill set works best at the top of the lineup, and 30 homers with 20 steals along with the glove work should be locked in. The question now is how long he'll be a member of the Mets. Lindor can become a free agent at the end of the year, but you have to assume Steve Cohen isn't going to let him leave anytime soon. This also should help bats like Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, who should get a chance to either drive in Lindor or get driven in by the star. It'd be hard to overstate how huge of a get this is for the Metropolitans.
And while Lindor is the headliner of this and any other trade he'd ever be a part of -- we have to assume Lindor isn't being dealt for Mike Trout or Mookie Betts anytime soon, anyway -- Carrasco is a great get for the New York rotation, as well. The right-hander was excellent in 2020 after a 2019 season that saw him battle cancer, and he posted a 2.91 ERA, 82/27 K/BB ratio and 1.206 WHIP over 68 innings and 12 starts.
Missing bats has never been an issue for Carrasco with a career K/9 rate of 9.5. He has just one season of hitting 200 innings -- 2017 -- but he's been able to stay healthy for the most part outside of the year he dealt with the illness. He should pitch near the top of the Mets rotation with that Jacob deGrom fellow being the staff ace, and assuming he's the same hurler we saw in 2020, good things should be expected. At some point, New York will have a rotation that features deGrom, Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. Best of luck, NL East.
The Mets still are likely to make some splashes this offseason, but just with this move alone, they've solidified themselves as contenders for the postseason regardless of how many teams will qualify in 2021.
With all due respect to the names that are about to be mentioned, this is clearly a salary dump for Cleveland. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that there was $44 million of payroll shed in this move, and that it was (unsurprisingly) a goal to lower that number this winter. Pretty sad.
Rosario isn't that long removed from being one of the elite prospects in baseball, but for the most part, hasn't played like it. Even taking away his poor 2020, the 25-year-old would still have a career slash of .270/.305/.406 in 357 games. Those aren't abhorrent numbers, but considering many ranked Rosario as high as the second-best prospect in the game not long ago, they're disappointing. Rosario should be the everyday shortstop for Cleveland, but isn't likely to put up big numbers based on what we've seen so far. It's not unheard of for a player to click at his age/prospect status, however.
Gimenez, 22, no longer counts as a prospect, but he could be the headliner of the deal from Cleveland's side. Signed out of Venezuela, the left-handed hitting infielder held his own with a .263/.333/.398 in his first taste of MLB action, and it's worth pointing out that he skipped Triple-A last year -- there was no MiLB baseball, as you likely know -- while doing so. He's a stolen-base threat with plus speed, and he makes enough hard contact to project a decent average going forward. Gimenez split time between shortstop, second base and third in 2020, and could be asked to do so again for Cleveland this summer. He should be a regular, even if he doesn't have an everyday spot locked down.
Greene was drafted with the 69th pick in June's draft out of Corona High School in California, and didn't get a chance to play because of the aforementioned cancellation of the minor league season. He's a left-handed hitter and thrower who gets quality reviews for his feel for the game, and he also has the type of speed you see in players who steal 30 bases. His swing should allow him to make consistent contact, but he'll need to add loft to hit for power. Greene could be a leadoff hitter, with the floor of a defense-first backstop.
Wolf also was a second-round pick; in his case joining the Mets as the 53rd pick in 2019. A 6-foot-3, 170-pound right-hander, the 20-year-old can get his fastball up to 97 mph with movement, and he shows a plus curveball with the ability to locate both pitches as well. His change is just an average offering at best, and there's some questions as to whether or not he'll have the stuff to be a starter. We've seen Cleveland do wonders with this type of profile, however, so it's fair to say Wolf's stock went up.
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It's fair to say that Cleveland improved their system today, but the return here for an elite shortstop and a quality starter seems light. Light seems like an understatement, really.