Steve Cohen has just made it very clear that the New York Mets are ready to become a true heavyweight.
New York Mets fans are still basking in the glory of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor signing a 10-year, $341 million extension late on Wednesday night, as first reported by Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, and even the postponement of today’s Opening Day showdown with the Washington Nationals hasn’t been enough to chip away at the excitement currently engulfing Citi Field.
You can’t really overstate just how big a moment this is in franchise history and for new Owner Steve Cohen, who proved with one hefty cheque that the New York Mets are now major players at the card table and they are ready to start acting like the big-market team they are.
Just let this sink in for a moment; the Mets have one of the best and most entertaining players in all of baseball under control for the next 10 years (11 years really because the new deal doesn’t kick in until 2022), which will hopefully be a decade of superb baseball and one or two championships if we’re all lucky. But there is no doubt that this type of deal wouldn’t have happened under the Wilpons’ watch.
This contract breaks all kind of new ground for the New York Mets who were famous for shopping in the bargain bin under the Wilpons, but this is a new era under Steve Cohen and his desire to turn this franchise into a winner again was made abundantly clear with the deal dished out to Francisco Lindor.
After all, the $341 million contract given to Lindor is one of the richest in the long history of Major League Baseball, stacking up with the deals given to elite stars in Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, while Lindor’s contract is actually worth $1 million more than San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., who signed his own monster deal in the offseason.
The fact that the Mets now own of the best paid players in all of baseball is testament to Cohen’s vision for this franchise, and it is also proof that “Uncle Steve” will do whatever it takes to win in Queens, no matter the cost. He was adamant earlier in the week that he would not come off his final offer of $325 million for 10 years but, understanding the importance of signing a player of Lindor’s ilk long-term, he met his star asset in the middle and got a deal done just before Lindor’s hard deadline of Opening Day.
Now the proud owner of the richest contract in Mets history after blowing past the eight-year, $138 million deal given to Captain and third baseman David Wright prior to the 2013 season, Francisco Lindor made sure he opened his Press Conference on Thursday by thanking the man that made this all possible.
“I want to thank Steve, Alex Cohen for believing in me, for believing in my family. It’s an honor, it’s a privilege to wear blue and orange. I’m so excited, I’m pumped,” Lindor said.
All Mets fans are somewhat snakebitten given what this team has put us through over the years, and the mere mention of Jarred Kelenic on the MLB Network or on social media is enough to give us nightmares for days given the level of saboteur former GM Brodie Van Wagenen was.
However, better days appear to be ahead and those above quotes from Lindor should be enough to get any Mets fan excited about the future. I mean, this is a premier talent who is electric on and off the field and he has the potential to finish his career as the best positional player in the long and rich history of the New York Mets.
A four-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner and a two-time Silver Slugger, Lindor is a master of his craft and he provided the Mets with a tantalizing glimpse of what we all have to look forward to during Spring Training, blasting four home runs and going 19-for-52 at the plate, slashing .365/.431/.615.
Lindor is also a premiere defender – something the Mets have lacked – and he’ll add a different dimension to that left infield with his platinum glove coupled with his ability to just make things happen both with the bat and in the field. He’s a special, special player and will be central to the Mets winning a World Series, an ambition that Lindor talked about yesterday.
“To the fans in New York, here we go baby, here we go. We have 11-years together! I can’t wait to bring a championship to the city. There’s $341 million reasons for me to go out there and play the game the right way. I want to win, I want to win. If I put up good numbers, I give my team a better chance to win. I’m excited to compete everyday with my teammates. Win a lot of games, hopefully we bring a championship to this city.”
Every championship contender needs a leading man, a jewel in the crown if you like, as the LA Dodgers have with Mookie Betts, the San Diego Padres with Fernando Tatis Jr. and the New York Yankees with Aaron Judge, and the New York Mets now have that with Francisco Lindor who is built to lead a franchise to glory.
Lindor is now the face of this franchise alongside Jacob deGrom and, while there will no doubt be other big names added to this core over the next year or two, Lindor will be looked upon as the heartbeat of this team and there was one quote that proves he’s already bought into the winning culture Steve Cohen is trying to build.
“I’m excited to be a New York Met. It’s going to be a special run. My goal at the end of all of this is that we make this organization the greatest organization and everybody wants to come to play for the New York Mets.”
I think that last quote was probably the money quote of the entire press conference, but also the most important given that Francisco Lindor’s desire to commit potentially the rest of his career to the New York Mets is testament to Steve Cohen’s absolute commitment to take this franchise to the promised land and his willingness to do whatever it took to deliver us a true superstar for the next decade.
And you can be sure that this won’t be the last big splash “Uncle Steve” makes during his tenure.