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Fantasy Baseball Trade Impact: Francisco Lindor Traded To Mets

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Jan 7, 2021

Before we get started, let me just say: Mets fans, rejoice. Arguably the most helpless feeling as a sports fan is when your favorite team is under bad ownership. Ever since the Madoff scandal, the Wilpons’ downright refusal to sell the franchise had entrapped Mets fans. Of course, that all changed once noted Mets fan and rich guy Steve Cohen swooped in to save the day. Early returns gave fans the James McCann signing, but it wasn’t until Wednesday, January 7th, that Cohen’s presence was truly felt.

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The New King Of Queens

On Thursday, Jeff Passan of ESPN confirmed that the Mets were finalizing a deal to acquire Francisco Lindor. Roughly half an hour later after his report, both the Mets and Indians called it a done deal. There are ample “real-life” implications of this move, such as New York becoming the NL East favorites, possibly even challenging the Dodgers and Padres for National League supremacy, but we’ll be focusing on the fantasy impact here.

Lindor was going to be a fantasy stud whether he was traded or not. Entering today, he has been being drafted, on average, as the 16th overall player in NFBC leagues. This puts him right on the Round 1/2 borderline of traditional 12-team redraft leagues. I’d expect his ADP to rise a bit following the trade, if for no other reason than baseball fans getting more excited to draft him because of the blockbuster. Lindor should also benefit from his new lineup, as Cleveland certainly didn’t surround him with many All-Star bats over the past couple of years.

It’s worth noting that the 27-year-old posted a career-worst triple slash line last summer, batting .258/.335/.415 with eight homers and six steals in 60 games. Perhaps he would’ve rebounded over the course of a full season. The advanced metrics certainly seem to agree with that line of thinking, as Lindor posted a career-high hard-hit rate (41.1%). Nearly every other Statcast metric falls in line with his career norms. Additionally, Lindor’s 55.8% rate of air contact (fly balls and line drives) was the highest of his career. It goes without saying that I’m not worried about his “down” season from 2020.

The Other New King Of Queens

Incredibly, Lindor wasn’t the only star player the Mets received in this trade. Carlos Carrasco, fresh off a season with a 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 82 strikeouts in 68 innings, will be joining New York’s rotation. While Lindor will make the headlines, we shouldn’t treat Carrasco as just a throw-in. No way. I’m completely writing off his subpar 2019 campaign, as he was diagnosed with Leukemia that year. Heroically, Carrasco came roaring back in 2020 and wound up performing as one of the best draft-day values in fantasy baseball.

A deeper dive into the 2020 numbers shows a career-worst 9.6% walk rate (compared to a 5.9% career average). This concern is mitigated by the fact that Carrasco continued to strike out over a batter per inning. He has always remained far healthier than he is given credit for, it seems. In the four seasons between 2015-18, he started at least 30 games three times. Still, he’ll be entering his age-34 season, and with an ADP of 72nd overall, we also aren’t getting last year’s discount. As someone who wants to invest in as much high-end start pitching as possible this fantasy season, I’d ultimately be comfortable paying this price on Carrasco.

Source: FanGraphs

The Others

While Mets loyalists are celebrating this move, fans of the Cleveland Baseball Team remain trapped by their ownership. Since the 2019 trade deadline, the Tribe have actively removed Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Brad Hand, Carrasco, and Lindor from their roster. As a baseball organization, Cleveland doesn’t typically get the same credit that the Rays do for remaining competitive under budget constraints. As a fan, however, this has to hurt.

Cleveland shed $44 million in payroll by making this move, which was their top offseason priority all along. In exchange, they’re getting Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene. There’s a case to be made that when you factor in these four contracts’ future value, the Tribe didn’t get absolutely crushed in this trade. We won’t be making that case here.

A former top prospect, Rosario has been a disappointment to begin his big-league career. Hitting .287 with 15 homers and 19 stolen bases in 2019 was enough to warrant some excitement entering 2020, but the 25-year-old’s paltry .643 OPS during the shortened campaign quickly crushed the hype. The only reason I’m willing to buy into Rosario as a late-round flier in deeper leagues is because of this report that he has been working with swing guru Doug Latta. Rosario’s playing time was going to be a question mark with the Mets, but the newfound opportunity combined with a new approach? It wouldn’t be unheard of for a player of his caliber to finally put it all together.

Lastly, we’ll touch on Gimenez. The 22-year-old impressed as a rookie, especially when you consider that he wound up skipping Triple-A altogether (no minor league season last year). A versatile defender, Gimenez’s efficiency at stealing bases (8-for-9) is what will fuel his fantasy appeal. It’s unclear if he’ll settle in as a regular at a certain infield position or if he’ll bounce around in a utility-type role. I don’t expect much power at all. In fantasy leagues where steals are de-emphasized, you can mostly ignore Gimenez.

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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