The Mets continued to make good on new owner Steve Cohen’s promise to field a legitimate team Thursday, shaking up the baseball world with a trade for all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor. And for dessert, they picked up Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco. All it took to land the pair and help Cleveland slash payroll to under $40 million was shortstops Andres Gimenez and Ahmed Rosario, plus two prospects who now sit at Nos. 12 and 16 in why-are-they-still-the-Indians’ system.
That’s only the beginning, though, as the Mets are almost certain to try to extend Lindor much like the Dodgers did after acquiring Mookie Betts in a similar deal last year. Then come the big free agent moves, with USA Today reporting that the Mets are “still are engaged with free-agent closer Liam Hendriks and center fielder George Springer.”
What’s more, the report goes on to say that New York has “had trade talks with the Chicago Cubs for third baseman Kris Bryant.” That’s something we’ve heard before, at least in speculative terms, though it’s unclear whether this is just saying that such conversations were had or are actually ongoing. The source in question muddies those waters a little, but I’m thinking it’s more the former.
If this offseason has taught us anything, though, it’s that one big trade certainly doesn’t preclude another. Less than 24 hours after we’d all written off the rumor of the Padres’ interest in Yu Darvish following their trade for Blake Snell, we were breaking down the deal. Much like the Mets’ coup, the Cubs were unable to pry loose any top-10 prospects.
That would almost certainly be the case in a Bryant trade as well, given the combination of his age (29), projected salary (roughly $20 million), lack of contractual control (one season), and questionable health (he’s fine now but has battled injuries). While none of those things alone is entirely detrimental, adding them all to a depressed market in which the Cubs organization is publicly seeking to shed payroll means selling at a steep discount.
Since much of this is already repetitive, I’ll go ahead and say again that it doesn’t make sense to trade Bryant now if Jed Hoyer is even the slightest bit serious about actually trying to compete in 2021. No one the Cubs would get back is likely to help them this season or even next, if ever, and they could probably get at least as much at the trade deadline if Bryant performs well. Then again, that could put Hoyer in the quandary of having to sell while still being in the hunt.
In light of what’s been happening in the world these past couple days, part of me relishes the thought of seeing the organization forced to defend such a strategy. What can I say, some men just want to watch the world burn.