Francisco Lindor trade: Mets' odds to win National League pennant, World Series hugely improve; George Springer next big move?

The first MLB blockbuster trade of the offseason happened Thursday with the Mets landing arguably the game's best shortstop in Francisco Lindor and a good starting pitcher in Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland.
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When Steve Cohen bought the Mets fairly recently, he became the richest owner in Major League Baseball and said the Mets were going to start acting/spending like the big-market team they are. Cohen has kept his word so far with the Mets acquiring superstar young shortstop Francisco Lindor and very solid starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians on Thursday for prospects. The Mets' MLB futures odds at William Hill Sportsbook changed dramatically with the deal.

The Indians are in cost-cutting mode, and they were always going to deal Lindor because he's set for unrestricted free agency after the 2021 season and there was no chance the Tribe could come close to paying the $400 million or so that Lindor would demand. In early November, SportsLine oddsmakers listed the Mets as the +250 favorites to be the team that traded for Lindor.

Just 27, Lindor is a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Through his age-25 season (using that metric because of the shortened 2020 campaign), Baseball Reference listed Lindor with a career War Above Replacement number of 27.6. That was fourth-best through any age-25 season for a shortstop in MLB history behind Alex Rodriguez (46.4), Cal Ripken Jr. (34.6) and Jim Fregosi (28.7) and ahead of Hall of Famers like Robin Young (26.9) and Derek Jeter (23.4).

Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor ranks first among all shortstops in WAR, home runs (138) and extra-base hits. He ranks second in RBIs (411) and runs (508) and fifth in OPS (.835) and slugging (.485).

Expect the Mets to follow what the Los Angeles Dodgers did in trading for Red Sox superstar outfielder Mookie Betts before last season: Re-sign Lindor to a long-term contract as the Dodgers accomplished with Betts. No way Cohen will let Lindor hit the market next winter now.

The 33-year-old Carrasco is hardly a throw-in as he's 88-73 career with a 3.77 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He missed some time in the 2019 season after being diagnosed with leukemia but fought his way back that year and was named AL Comeback Player of the Year. Last season in 12 starts, Carrasco was 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Carrasco's remaining contract is $12 million in 2021, $12 million in 2022 and a $14 million club option of $3 million buyout in 2023.

At William Hill before this trade, New York had been +1600 to win its first World Series since 1986 and +900 to win the NL pennant. Now, those odds are +1200 and +550. The Dodgers (+200), Padres (+400) and Braves (+425) remain above the Mets for the pennant, but no one thinks Cohen is done.

New York is considered the leader to sign Astros  free-agent outfielder and former World Series MVP George Springer. According to a report from Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets team brass is "optimistic Springer will be wearing a Mets uniform by the time spring training begins."

Also this offseason, New York caught a break when starting pitcher Marcus Stroman opted to take the one-year qualifying offer over free agency, and the Mets signed free-agent catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May.

The Mets are scheduled to open the season April 1 at Washington, but it's far from certain the 2021 campaign will start on time. New York doesn't play the Indians – Cleveland will stay the Indians this year before changing names starting in 2022. SportsLine oddsmakers favor Spiders and Guardians as the nickname favorites.  

Cleveland saved about $44 million this season with the trade and received shortstops Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and two minor-league prospects -- right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene – in return. The Indians aren't pretending they will contend this year and might not be done dealing off their best talent. They moved to +3500 to win the World Series and +1400 for the AL pennant.  

The SportsLine Projection Model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up almost $7,900 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception five-plus years ago. It is a sizzling 23-13 on top-rated NFL picks this season, returning well over $800. The model also enters the 2021 NFL Playoffs on an incredible 119-77 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates back to the 2017 season.

SportsLine Staff
SportsLine Staff