March 31, 9:36 pm: There haven’t been any new discussions or proposals between the sides, hears Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). The Mets have not come off their $325MM offer, while Lindor is holding firm with an ask “more than $50MM” greater than that.
March 31, 10:15 am: The stalemate remains in place this morning, tweets Thosar, who adds that neither side expects additional discussions at the moment. Optimism of a deal being reached today is currently low. One source tells Newsday’s Tim Healey: “No talks and none expected.”
March 30: 10:14 pm: The Mets’ $325MM offer does not contain any deferred money, Heyman hears (Twitter link). Lindor is holding firm on his $385MM ask, Heyman adds.
12:07 pm: Cohen commented on the negotations via his Twitter account, saying “I have made a great offer [to Lindor]. It does take two to tango.” Another tweet praised the shortstop, saying “Lindor is a heckuva player and a great guy . I hope he decides to sign.”
10:24 am: The Mets and Francisco Lindor appear to be at something of a standstill, with reports from SNY’s Andy Martino and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman last night indicating that the team put forth a 10-year, $325MM offer. Newsday’s Tim Healey, meanwhile reported that Lindor’s camp countered at $385MM over 12 years.
Martino reports this morning that while there’s some pessimism from the Mets, they’re also “brainstorming” some creative options to try to get a deal across the finish line. The Mets, according to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, were rather surprised by Lindor’s recent counteroffer. Thosar reports that the Lindor camp at one point suggested that the extension could check in below Mookie Betts’ 12-year, $365MM deal with the Dodgers.
Lindor’s $385MM asking price would be the largest commitment ever made to a player in terms of new money tacked onto a deal. That title currently is held by Betts and his $365MM deal with the Dodgers, which narrowly eclipsed the 10 years and $360MM the Angels added to Mike Trout’s contract on his last extension (bringing his total commitment from the Angels to $426.5MM over 12 years.) San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. has the largest contract ever signed by a shortstop, recently agreeing to a 14-year, $340MM extension.
Like Betts, Lindor is heading into his age-27 season with a hefty arbitration salary already agreed upon ($22.3MM, in this case). His new contract would begin in his age-28 season, as was the case with Betts in Los Angeles. It’s not exactly surprising that Lindor’s camp would seek to top the Betts mark — thus giving them claim to the largest extension in MLB history — but at this point it seems as though the two sides are at an impasse with regard to contract length.
In terms of average annual value, the Mets’ current offer is actually slightly higher than the reported counteroffer. At the very least, it seems the two sides can align on an annual value in the $32MM range. The most straightforward compromise could be simply adding a year at that rate, but Thosar adds that the Mets have not shown a willingness to meet in the middle, which aligns with prior reports that the $325MM figure is the team’s “final” offer.
From a long-term payroll vantage point, the Mets can certainly afford to make such a commitment. New owner Steve Cohen is the game’s wealthiest owner, but even beyond that fact, the team’s payroll is fairly clean. They owe Robinson Cano a regrettable $20.25MM in 2022 and 2023 — the Mariners are covering $3.75MM of his $24MM salary each year — but their only long-term salaries of note beyond Cano are those of Jacob deGrom and James McCann. They’ll owe deGrom $33.5MM in 2022 and $30.5MM in 2023 before deciding on a $32MM club option for 2024. McCann, meanwhile, is owed $8MM both in 2021 and 2022 before earning $12MM in 2023 and 2024.
All told, the Mets have about $93MM in guaranteed salary on the 2022 books at the moment. That number falls to about $70MM in 2023, and McCann’s $12MM salary is the only money they have firmly committed to the 2024 roster. Signing Lindor to an extension of any length wouldn’t considerably impede the team’s efforts to build out the roster in the coming years, although that of course doesn’t mean they should simply hand him a blank check. Any negotiation has its cutoff point, and the Mets appear at or quite close to theirs. Given that they’re also hoping to lock up Michael Conforto and surely want to keep deGrom in a Mets uniform for his whole career, there are some other balls in the air that must be considered by Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson.
The outcome of talks between Lindor and the Mets will have a much broader reach than Citi Field or even the NL East, however. Lindor is currently slated to headline a historic crop of free-agent shortstops next winter — really, a historic crop of free agents in general. If he agrees to forgo that trip to the open market, it’d create less competition for the likes of Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Javier Baez, and it would free the Mets up to focus their free-agent efforts on other areas right out of the gate.