The Reds missed out on Francisco Lindor after the Mets traded for the shortstop.
Francisco Lindor will not be part of the Cincinnati Reds next season. Instead, the New York Mets swung a deal with the Cleveland Indians to acquire the four-time All-Star. Having seen what the Mets had to give up to land Lindor’s services, what might it have taken for Cincinnati to have pulled off that type of blockbuster trade?
First, let’s take a look at what New York surrendered. The Mets are reportedly sending infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez along with prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene to the Indians. In return, Cleveland will receive Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco.
Cleveland got a solid return for their All-Star shortstop, as Gimenez or Rosario can be plugged into the vacancy left by Lindor. Of course neither is the elite-level player Lindor is, but in 2018, Gimenez was the Mets’ No. 1 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline and No. 55 in all of Major League Baseball.
Rosario in under team control for the next three seasons, and though he’s coming off a subpar 2020 campaign, the 25-year-old posted a .755 OPS in 2019. Cleveland will also be receiving two of New York’s Top 10 prospects according to MLB Pipeline.
The biggest drawback to this trade, at least for the New York Mets, may not be what they’re giving up in terms of prospects, but what they’re taking on in terms of salary. Francisco Lindor is entering his final year of arbitration and will likely take home in the neighborhood of $20M next season. Carrasco is under contract for the next two years and is still owed $27M.
Given what we’ve seen from the Reds’ front office this offseason, the salaries of Lindor and Carrasco alone would’ve been more than what Cincinnati would’ve been willing to take on. But what might it have cost in terms of prospects? Let’s see if we can narrow that down as well.
Nick Senzel was the Reds top prospect in 2018, similar to Gimenez, but Cincinnati’s former first-round pick was also ranked No. 6 in all of baseball. While Senzel has struggled to stay healthy in his career, it’s fair to assume that he would not have been included in a hypothetical deal.
Jonathan India, on the other hand, would make perfect sense. In 2018, India was ranked as one of the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, and the third baseman is blocked at the big league level by Eugenio Suárez. It’s safe to assume any deal for Lindor likely would’ve included India.
Ahmed Rosario was once one of New York’s top prospects. During his first two full seasons, Rosario seemed like an everyday player, but stopped short of being what many would consider to be an impact player. I feel the same way about Jesse Winker.
Winker has tremendous talent at the plate, and has a career-OPS+ of 123. However, until last season, Winker has struggled to stay healthy and his below-average defense found him in the Reds outfield for only 13 of his 48 starts in 2020. The other 35 starts were as the team’s designated hitter, a role that may not return in 2021.
If India and Winker were the major-league ready talent heading to Cleveland in exchange for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, what prospects might the Reds have given up if they wanted to complete a deal? I think Cincinnati would’ve had to have sent right-hander Christian Roa and infielder Rece Hinds to Cleveland as well.
Both Roa and Hinds were second-round selections of the Cincinnati Reds in the past two drafts. Roa looks like an advanced arm that has the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher, and Hinds has elite-level power, but is still incredibly raw.
So, had the Cincinnati Reds been able to pull off a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians, it may have looked something like this; Jesse Winker, Jonathan India, Christian Roa, and Rece Hinds to Cleveland in exchange for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. I think every Reds fan would agree to that trade in a second.