NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Lindor was alone in a Washington, D.C., hotel room Wednesday night when he got the call from agent David Meter: the New York Mets had offered $341 million — $1 million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. got in February.
The biggest payday ever for a shortstop.
“I wanted to yell,” Lindor said Thursday. “I wanted to scream as loud as I could.”
Lindor kept his cool — mostly — and told Meter to get it done.
The sides agreed to a $341 million, 10-year pact on the eve of opening day, terms that could keep the four-time All-Star in Queens for the rest of his career. The deal kicks in for the 2022 season, meaning Lindor will be 38 when the contract expires.
“To the fans of New York, here we go baby!” Lindor said. “Here we go. We have 11 years together. I can’t wait.”
The Mets acquired Lindor this offseason from the Cleveland Indians, who were unable to negotiate a long-term contract with the face of their franchise. New York nabbed him knowing he could walk as a free agent after this season but hopeful Lindor would be willing to forego the open market.
The 27-year-old Lindor said he wouldn’t stretch talks with the Mets beyond opening day, but even as the clock neared midnight Wednesday, he remained confident the sides would find middle ground.
“I knew something was going to happen,” he said. “It was just a matter of getting to that sweet spot.”
The deal fulfills a promise by first-year owner Steve Cohen that these Mets mean business — and have the money to back it up. Lindor’s agreement trounces David Wright’s $138 million, eight-year contract for the largest in club history.
Cohen and Lindor had dinner over the weekend, and Lindor said they spoke frankly. Lindor confirmed reports that his side had asked for $385 million over 12 years but said it “wasn’t a line in the sand,” and the meeting with Cohen set the stage for the final leg of bargaining.
“He’s all about winning, and I think we won with this,” Lindor said. “Both sides are happy.”
A two-time Gold Glove winner over six seasons, Lindor is a career .285 hitter and has averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 21 stolen bases per season. New York acquired him along with right-hander Carlos Carrasco for infielders Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez and two minor leaguers in January and agreed to a $22.3 million salary for 2021. Lindor will play out that deal before the new agreement begins in 2022.
It will be the biggest payday ever for a shortstop, slipping by Tatis’ $340 million, 14-year deal with the San Diego Padres signed in February.
“Tatis is a great player,” Lindor said. “He got an outstanding contract, obviously, but deals are different. Deals are different. It was a different deal completely. I was just happy my agent called me and said, ‘341.’”
Lindor said that shortstops Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros and Javier Báez of the Chicago Cubs were among the many people who reached out with congratulations. Correa and Báez are both eligible for free agency after this season, and Lindor acknowledged there’s a friendly competition among the Puerto Rican trio as they seek long-term deals.
“I love those guys,” Lindor said. “I hope they get more. I hope they do what they do and get more.”
Overall, only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million, 12-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers are worth more. Betts’ deal includes $115 million in deferred payments through 2044.
The Mets were set to start the season Thursday night in Washington, but that game was postponed due to at least one positive coronavirus test among Nationals players. New York manager Luis Rojas is hopeful the teams will instead start the season Saturday.
Lindor hasn’t been to New York since the trade and won’t play his first home game at Citi Field until next Thursday, when the Mets host the Miami Marlins. He acknowledged the expectations that will come with the hefty contract and promised to make good on them, saying there were “341 million reasons for me to go out there and play the game the right way.”
“To wear blue and orange, I’m excited,” he added. “I’m pumped, I’m honored and I’m humbled.”