The Cincinnati Reds have needed a shortstop for some time. For some time, the best shortstop on the planet has been on the trade block, a certainty to be moved elsewhere before he reached free agency.
The dots were not hard to connect. They were right freaking next to one another.
It’s been a pipe dream here, there, and everywhere within Reds country that Francisco Lindor maybe, perhaps, possibly could head south from Cleveland to be the Next Great Reds Shortstop. Those dreams, however, shattered abruptly on Thursday, as cash-poor Cleveland dealt not just their superstar shortstop, but also Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets in the first real blockbuster deal of MLB’s offseason.
MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo had the details.
The full Mets-Indians trade involves six players switching teams, per sources.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 7, 2021
Mets receive: Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco
Indians receive: Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, Josh Wolf,
You can read in Anthony’s tweet about the players Cleveland received, but it’s FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris who more accurately details what Cleveland gets out of this deal.
As far as I can tell, the Indians 2021 payroll (with benefits and arb estimates) will be under $50 million after this trade…https://t.co/lH6Hc3q6Lx— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) January 7, 2021
The mass exodus from MLB’s Central divisions is significantly exacerbated by this, obviously. The NL Central has been in complete purge-mode with the subtractions of Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Kyle Schwarber, Yu Darvish, this list is already exhausting, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Kolten Wong, Josh Bell, Ryan Braun, and Jedd Gyorko, while so far only the Chicago White Sox have truly made any push to contend in the AL Central (with minor apologies to the Kansas City Royals, who have made some additions to a roster that I don’t think is ready yet...though given their opponents’ depletion, maybe).
For the Mets, it’s a huge get, one that will likely feature a Lindor extension from new owner Steve Cohen at some point soon. It’s a club that clearly has intentions of spending their way back into relevance, as they already landed Marcus Stroman (again) earlier this winter. They join the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers as the behemoths in the NL, a league that increasingly looks less and less winnable for teams like...
...the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds, you’ll recall, were not particularly excellent during the 2020 season, and I just outlined some of their departures two paragraphs ago. Suddenly, when you spin your brain back to the November-December rumors of them shopping Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Eugenio Suarez with varying degrees of emphasis, perhaps it begins to make sense why they’d have one eye on punting the 2021 season with the other on the future, as it seems clearer by the day that they aren’t super serious about making sewing a 2021 banner to fly over the outfield.
The Mets gave up a good player and a few solid prospects. They did not give up their top prospect, nor did they give up their entire farm. The two players off their active roster they moved wouldn’t, after adding Lindor, have even been starters at their positions anymore. Meanwhile the Reds, who have a hole at shortstop bigger than any in the game right now, just let the best shortstop in the game go elsewhere in such a package, one that also included a completely affordable rock-solid pitcher in Carlos Carrasco, something the Reds should have also been shopping for this winter if 2021 were to be a priority.
So, we’re back, Reds fans. We’re back to being Reds fans, that group that gets to watch other clubs swing big. We got a taste of that last winter, nd it increasingly appears that may be our only taste for now.