Lots of times, it seems like Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has a target on his back. That’ll happen when you play in baseball’s largest media market on a 10-year, $341 million deal. Every single thing he does (or doesn’t do, in the eyes of the person saying it) gets criticized.
Heck, even people in Cleveland are still trying to justify the Guardians not paying up for Lindor and trading him away a couple of years ago. On the Cleveland-focused FanSided blog, Factory of Sadness, an article was published on Friday titled, “Cleveland Guardians continue to look like geniuses for trading Francisco Lindor”.
Since I don’t even want to try to sum this up, here’s a snippet of it:
And while the whole organization has underperformed while throwing money at declining players, no deal on the team looks worse than that of Francisco Lindor; the former Cleveland Guardians mega-star.
Lindor, who is coming off of a great 5-5 outing on Thursday, is hitting just .233 on the year and has more strikeouts (78) than hits (76). Lindor isn’t making a league minimum. He isn’t making a modest salary. Lindor is 10th in the league in individual salary per season with $34 million, and he’s locked into that salary until 2031 when he’s 37 years old.
Lindor, who will be 30 in November, has not looked like his future Hall-of-Fame self since being dealt to New York. Before arriving, his stat line looked very good, with a slash of .285/.346/.488 and an OPS of .833. Since going to New York, his stat line has fallen; .246/.326/.435 and an OPS of .762.
There’s no way anyone can justify those numbers at his price. In fact, for $22 million per year, the Mets could have had more production with the Guardians’ current middle infield of Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. Sure, the power isn’t the same, but they’re together more impactful than Lindor is any day, and provide nearly half the cost.
Oh boy…where do I begin? I guess let’s get the basic math out of the way since $22 million isn’t “nearly half” of $34 million. Is it cheaper? Yea, but let’s not try to fudge the numbers here. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez are making about 65% of Lindor’s salary. That’s approaching “nearly three-quarters” territory.
Next, talk about cherry-picking certain statistics to support a narrative, right? The writer is correct about the hits and strikeouts (although they’re both at 81 now) and that his triple slash was better in Cleveland than it has been in New York. But that only tells part of the story. Gimenez and Rosario haven’t been more impactful than Lindor this year. And it’s not even close.
Let’s look at the 2023 stats for each of these players side-by-side:
- Lindor: .239/.320/.478, 41 extra-base hits (20 doubles, 2 triples, 19 homers), 60 RBI, 56 runs scored, 13 steals, 3.3 fWAR
- Rosario: .268/.311/.362, 23 extra-base hits (16 doubles, 5 triples, 2 homers), 34 RBI, 43 runs scored, 9 steals, 0.1 fWAR
- Gimenez: .248/.320/.389, 25 extra-base hits (14 doubles, 4 triples, 7 homers), 34 RBI, 40 runs scored, 15 steals, 1.7 fWAR
So, Rosario and Gimenez have combined for 48 extra-base hits, 68 RBI, and 83 runs scored while producing 1.8 fWAR. Lindor’s extra-base hits and RBI totals are just about equal, and his fWAR is nearly double. Oh, and for all the talk about how low his triple slash is, Lindor’s .798 OPS is much higher than that of Rosario (.673) and Gimenez (.709).
Let’s go one step further because this is a fun exercise. Since 2021, Lindor has produced 14.4 fWAR. Over that same period of time, Rosario and Gimenez have combined to produce 13.5 fWAR. And 6.1 of that came in 2022 from Gimenez alone.
Why can’t we just talk about how both teams got what they wanted out of this deal? The Guardians got two productive players with one who has the potential to grow into a consistently great one (Gimenez). Meanwhile, the Mets got a consistently elite presence at shortstop (at the plate and with the glove) when compared to others across the league.
This is a classic opportunity to pile on the Mets. That’s what happens when you spend a lot of money to contend. And it’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scenario. If they were keeping pace with the Braves in the NL East, people would say “Well, of course they’re good, they bought all their players!” But since they’ve limped into the All-Star break with a 42-48 record, the narrative is “See?! You can’t buy success, you have to develop it.” (Which Mets owner Steve Cohen ultimately wants to do.)
In the grand scheme of things, the Guardians got what they were looking for. The Mets also got what they were looking for with the way they’re willing to run their team. This seems like a great example of a win-win trade.
If you’re going to criticize a player, though — who should be a 2023 All-Star — bring all the facts. Not just the ones that support the narrative you want.