The New York Mets were close to acquiring Lindor at the Winter Meetings

New York Yankees, Mets, Francisco Lindor
Sep 20, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) smiles at the dugout between innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is already here, and the New York Mets‘ pitchers and catchers already reported to camp in Port St. Lucie. It’s that time of the year where dreams fly, everybody is in the “shape of his life” and baseball is around the corner.

It’s also a time to discuss what “may have happened” if some things were different. For example, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal detailed just how close the Mets were to pull off what could have been the trade of the offseason, at least until the Mookie Betts deal went through.

Rosenthal said that the Mets were close to acquire the Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The two teams talked during the MLB Winter Meetings, but no deal was struck at the time. Both clubs decided to move on.

Here is what Rosenthal wrote about the failed transaction:

“Start with Lindor. The Mets aggressively tried to acquire him at the winter meetings, engaging in significant dialogue with the Indians, sources said. The price likely would have been shortstop Amed Rosario and two top prospects – too high for the Mets’ liking, considering that Lindor likely will earn in the $40 million to $45 million range in his final two years of arbitration before becoming a free agent.”

“Lindor was a luxury item, not a must-have. The emerging Rosario is under club control for four more seasons. The Mets’ top prospect, Ronny Mauricio, is a shortstop, as is the No. 5 player on Baseball America’s list, Andrés Giménez. When the Mets perceived the Indians were not especially motivated to act, they moved on to a greater area of need, signing Porcello and Wacha for a combined $13 million, or $4 million less than Lindor will earn this season.”

The Mets should have insisted

Perhaps the Mets should have insisted on getting a deal done. Sure, losing Rosario, who is an up-and-coming star at just 24 years old, would have hurt. Mauricio and Gimenez are bright young players, but Lindor is a star and would have taken the Mets to another level roster-wise.

In 143 games and 654 plate appearances, Lindor hit 32 home runs, scored 101 runs, drove in 74 and stole 22 bases. He slashed .284/.335/.518 and registered a 4.4 fWAR, a product of his excellent offensive production and quality defense.

The New York Mets are in win-now mode, as Joe Giglio of notes. Lindor would have been a nice piece, but the team decided not to pursue him because of the prospect capital he required and his projected cost for the next couple of years.