FOR SIX YEARS, Francisco Lindor was the smiling face of the Cleveland Guardians, helping the team reach the World Series in 2016, making four All-Star teams, hitting 30-plus home runs three times, winning two Gold Glove awards and finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting three times. Even now, in the third season since the Guardians traded Lindor to the New York Mets, Cleveland's Chris Antonetti reiterates how difficult it was to trade away their superstar shortstop.
"Our clear preference all along was to have Francisco play a really long time in Cleveland and we made substantial efforts to make it happen, but in the end that wasn't going to be our reality," the Guardians' president of baseball operations said recently from the dugout at Fenway Park as his team took batting practice.
The Mets' side of the trade has been well publicized: They acquired Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco before the 2021 season for young infielders Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez and two prospects, then signed Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract extension right before Opening Day.
Lindor's first season with the Mets was mostly a disaster as he hit under .200 the first two months. Then, while the Mets were collapsing out of the playoff race in August, Lindor and teammate Javier Baez, upset with booing Mets fans, delivered their infamous "thumbs down" to the home crowd.