The New York Mets have been searching for years for a superstar position player. They now have one in Francisco Lindor, and the big question on everyone's mind: Will he sign a long-term deal with the Mets?
Lindor, eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, said during a video call Monday that he's certainly open to discussing a deal.
"To all of those fans out there, I live life day by day. I'm extremely happy and excited about what's happening right now, but I haven't really sat down and talked to anybody," he said. "Yeah, I had the welcoming conversations and I can't wait. I've never been against an extension. I've never been against signing long-term. I'm sure my agent along with the Mets group, they'll have conversations."
Lindor, 27, has already talked with owner Steve Cohen, team president Sandy Alderson and general manager Jared Porter. If the two sides do work out an extension, it will likely have to come before Opening Day.
"I have never negotiated a contract during a season," he said. "Never. I've always said before spring training, but once it gets to a point in spring training, it's time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning and that's the only thing I should be focusing on, not how much money I'm going to get."
Alderson said last week that the Mets had not yet spoken to Lindor's agent, David Meter, but said keeping Lindor in a Mets uniform is the goal. "We acquired Francisco because of his present ability and the possibility that he could be a Met long-term," Alderson said. "There's no guarantee of that. It's something we will approach in the next few weeks."
Lindor arguably gives the Mets their first franchise position player since David Wright's prime a decade ago. He has three top-10 MVP finishes in his career -- as many as all Mets position players combined over the past 12 seasons (Pete Alonso seventh in 2019, Yoenis Cespedes eighth in 2016 and Wright sixth in 2012). The last position player with back-to-back top-10 MVP finishes was Wright in 2007 and 2008. Lindor improves the defense up the middle -- a key offseason objective for Alderson and Porter. Over the past three seasons, the Mets ranked 28th in the majors in defensive runs saved at shortstop; Lindor ranked fifth among shortstops in that span.
The largest contract the Mets have ever given out was the $138 million extension Wright signed after 2012. Jacob deGrom is entering the third season of his five-year, $137.5 million extension. It will cost a lot more than that to sign Lindor, but the Mets now have a deep-pocketed owner in Cohen. A comparable deal might be the 12-year, $365 million contract Mookie Betts signed last summer with the Dodgers, forgoing his own free agency in the process.
"Mookie fell into a great situation and felt comfortable with the L.A. Dodgers and made a decision that was best for him and his family," Lindor said. "Like I said, I'm not against a long-term [contract]. It just has to make sense for both sides. We'll see what happens."
Aside from the contract, Lindor said he's excited about what the Mets are doing and has already talked to several players on the team, including Marcus Stroman, James McCann, Edwin Diaz and Tomas Nido (a childhood friend in Puerto Rico). He's ready to take on the challenge of the spotlight that comes with playing in New York.
"They say there is a lot of pressure in New York," he said. "It's a big market, there are lot of people on top of you. But I'm blessed to play the game. I'm Francisco Lindor. I'm going to do me, and hopefully people like that. Hopefully people embrace me. I'll embrace them."
Mets fans shouldn't have any problem doing that for the player nicknamed Mr. Smile. When asked about the first thing he'll do when he gets to New York, Lindor smiled and said, "I love pizza, so I'll probably eat some pizza."