CLEVELAND — According to multiple reports, it's not a matter of "if" the Cleveland Indians will trade Francisco Lindor this offseason, but "when."
And as the Indians and Lindor prepare to take center stage during the MLB's "Hot Stove" season, an intriguing candidate has emerged as a potential suitor for the 4-time All-Star shortstop's services.
While the New York Mets have largely been considered a laughing stock in recent years, Steve Cohen's recent purchase of the team has created a new sense of optimism for the franchise once dubbed the "Loveable Losers." And if his introductory press conference earlier this week was any indication, the billionaire hedge fund manager is looking to make an instant splash, likely in the form of high profile free agent signings, blockbuster trades, or perhaps, both.
"I am not in this to be mediocre," Cohen said, according to The New York Post. "I want something great."
Added team president Sandy Alderson: "There is a foundation there if we can add the right pieces this year -- and Steve has indicated that we will have the opportunity to do that -- we can be pretty good, pretty quickly. That is my goal in 2021."
It would be tough to imagine a better available piece for the Mets than Lindor, who would fit in seamlessly in a lineup that already includes 2019 National Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso. Set to turn 27 years old on Saturday, Lindor is already a 4-time All-Star, 2-time Silver Slugger and 2-time Gold Glove Award winner, whose upbeat personality has helped establish himself as one of baseball's premier players.
Set to become a free agent following the 2021 season, any team that acquires Lindor would presumably also want to sign him to a long-term contract, which could cost as much as $300 million in total value. And while the Mets currently project to have just baseball's 12th highest payroll in 2021, according to Spotrac, Cohen has indicated that the team's spending will soon rise.
"This is a major market team and should have a budget commensurate with that," Cohen said at his introductory press conference.
Of course, it takes two to tango, but according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the Indians would prefer the Mets get involved in this offseason's Lindor sweepstakes. And while Lindor's trade value might be murky considering the circumstances of his contract and the ongoing pandemic, it's worth noting the Mets lay claim to an improving farm system and four top 100 prospects, per MLB.com.
On Wednesday, Morosi reported that in addition to the Mets, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals are viewed as the strongest contenders for Lindor.
But when it comes to finding the best fit, the Indians might be hard-pressed to find a more ideal trade partner than the Mets.