Francisco Lindor smiled widely for a full 40 minutes, enthralled to join a New York Mets team bulking up under new owner Steven Cohen.
“They say it’s probably very contagious,” the Mets’ new shortstop said. “I’m living my dream. I’m living the life I always wanted, so I don’t see why not.”
Cleveland traded the four-time All-Star to New York along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco on Thursday for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario plus a pair of minor league prospects, right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.
“I’m excited to be with the Mets organization. I’m not against a long term. I’m not against it,” Lindor said in a news conference from Florida, wearing his new team’s royal blue cap. “It has to make sense of both sides.”
Lindor said he would not want to negotiate once he starts spring training, preferring to focus then on playing and hopefully winning. He earned $6,481,481 prorated from a $17.5 million salary last year, is eligible for arbitration next month and can become a free agent after this season. His agent, Dave Meter, had discussed a long-term deal with the Indians.
“We talked and we gave it our best effort on both sides,” Lindor said.
But the Indians did not think they could afford a multiyear contract with the 27-year-old, so they chose to make the trade.
Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager, bought the Mets on Nov. 6 from the Wilpon and Katz families. The Mets had the third-highest payroll last year behind the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, and the Mets’ offseason has included giving pitcher Marcus Stroman an $18.9 million, one-year deal; injured right-hander Noah Syndergaard a $9.7 million, one-year contract; right-handed reliever Trevor May a $15.5 million, two-year agreement; and catcher James McCann a $40.6 million, four-year deal.
Outfielder George Springer and second baseman DJ LeMahieu remain possibilities among free agents.
“I’m one of the faces. I embrace that,” Lindor said. “I have never been the type of player where it’s like, follow me, I’ll lead you to the success. No, I’ve always been a person that together we all are going to achieve what we want. And that’s what I bring. That’s what I’m bringing. I’m bringing my, `Hey guys. let’s find a way to do this together. I know you guys have a great thing going on. I just want to be a little piece of that puzzle.”‘
He hoped to remain with the Indians but said “they didn’t come up with that number.” He praised Cleveland but looked ahead enthusiastically.
“Cleveland is a great place, is a great city. I love the Indians. I love everybody in the organization,” he said, while knowing “if there is something missing, we’re going to go get it and we’re going to find a way.”
Lindor finds himself in a situation similar to that of outfielder Mookie Betts, traded from Boston to the Dodgers before last season with one season of club control remaining. Betts and Los Angeles agreed in July to a $365 million, 12-year contract.
If Lindor agrees to a long-term deal, it likely would become the largest in Mets’ history, surpassing the $138 million, eight-year agreement of captain David Wright that covered 2013-20.
Lindor’s first thought on what he wanted to do when he gets to New York had nothing to do with baseball, though.
“Pizza,” he said.