Cleveland’s front office has fired up the hot stove again! The rumors proved to be true, as the Indians sent shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets. As I did with the Mike Clevinger trade, I’ll attempt to answer your pressing questions surrounding the deal.
What’s the deal?
The Indians sent superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and fan-favorite pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets in return for shortstops Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, pitcher Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene. Gimenez and Rosario will play up the middle in Cleveland this year, while Wolf and Greene will head to the minor leagues.
Why did they do this?
This is exactly the splash new Mets owner Steve Cohen wanted to make. The Mets are trying to build a contender to challenge for the National League crown this year. They now have arguably the best shortstop in the league and a very solid veteran to anchor the middle of their rotation.
Cleveland gets a good blend of talented players to contribute to the Major League club in 2021 and two well-regarded prospects to continue developing. Rosario and Gimenez will immediately be the starting middle infield. Who plays shortstop and who plays second is up for some debate, but both are capable at either position. It’s possible Gimenez could see some time in center field, as well.
Wolf and Greene are still several years away from Cleveland. They’ll likely spend most of the summer in Arizona before heading to Low-A Lynchburg.
As has been the team’s MO over the past few years, the move also eliminates a significant portion of Cleveland’s committed payroll: Lindor is owed $19.5M in 2021, and Carrasco has three years left on his four-year deal with an average salary of $11.75M/year.
Who are the new guys?
Andres Gimenez is the headliner of this trade. The Mets’ #3 prospect on the team’s Prospects1500 Top 50, Gimenez saw action in 49 games with New York last year. He achieved a .263/.333/.398 line, similar to his Minor League career numbers. Gimenez is an above average defender who spent significant time at each of the three non-first base infield positions last summer. Expect him to get the bulk of the time at second in Cleveland, as Amed Rosario has only played short with the Mets. Many think he may have more power to unlock, so with continued work, Gimenez could be a staple in the Indians’ lineup for many years to come – He’s not a free agent until after the 2025 season.
Amed Rosario is a former top prospect in the Mets’ system who has settled into the starting shortstop role in New York. He’s another slick-fielding middle infielder with some questions at the plate. Over his four-year career, Rosario has put up a .268/.302/.403 line. While this won’t replace Francisco Lindor’s offensive production, Rosario will be a competent short-term replacement. Rosario is arbitration-eligible, and he’ll hit free agency after the 2023 season. Plan on seeing him at short for a few years until one of the Indians’ many SS prospects makes the club.
Josh Wolf is another pitching prospect to add to the Indians’ stable. The 2019 second round pick only tossed eight innings in the GCL last year, but his repertoire had him ranked 10th on the 2020 Mets Top 50. He has an above average fastball and curveball, and he’ll continue developing his secondary offerings with the Indians’ exceptional player development staff.
The Mets selected Isaiah Greene with the 69th pick in the 2020 draft. If he had still been on the board when Cleveland selected Petey Halpin, it’s possible Greene would already be with the team. He projects as an above average contact hitter with the speed to stick in centerfield. The 19-year-old will look to improve his power as he works his way up to Cleveland.
Could they have done better?
Cleveland could have. With Tyler Freeman looking more and more like he’s ready for Cleveland, it’s curious for the team to acquire both Gimenez and Rosario. It doesn’t make much sense to block Freeman when he may only need a half season at AAA Columbus before he’s ready for Cleveland. It would have made more sense to push for Brett Baty to condition as the heir apparent for Jose Ramirez at third. The return may have only been two players at that point, but it’s surprising none of Baty, Francisco Alvarez or Ronny Mauricio were involved.
For the Mets, it’s a simple answer: No. They now have arguably the best shortstop in the game, and they have an owner willing to pay him what he deserves on a long-term deal. Carrasco puts up numbers approaching Cy Young caliber when he’s at his best, so he’ll settle nicely into the middle of the Mets’ rotation. They also pulled off this trade without giving up any of the three prospects mentioned above. If Steve Cohen has a mind to make another blockbuster, he has the ammunition to do it.
What does this mean for the future?
The Mets have officially announced they’re all-in. New York’s refreshingly competent ownership has the financial means and desire to keep Lindor in Queens on a long-term deal, and Carrasco will provide another shot of veteran leadership to the pitching staff. With more moves expected, the Mets should be immediate contenders.
Meanwhile, it’s more of the same for Cleveland. They continue to load up on talented prospects they’re hoping to develop for a mid- to late-2020s title window. Rosario serves as a competent stopgap until one of the many infield prospects takes hold of 2B or SS. Gimenez can play anywhere on the infield, and he may prove to be an answer in a barren outfield, also. Despite the payroll cutting, Cleveland will still win some games in 2021 while continuing to build a formidable farm system.