Mets' Francisco Lindor may end up being worth $341 million

Mets’ Francisco Lindor may end up being worth $341 million

Francisco Lindor slid a bag over his shoulder, fist-bumped a few young boys eating pizza in the clubhouse, then headed for the Citi Field door and a desperately needed day off after playing his 111th game out of a possible 112 this season.

The Mets shortstop stopped for a minute when a reporter asked how much he hoped to someday be considered among the Piazzas, Beltrans, and Strawberrys as one of the best position players in franchise history.

“I’d love to,” he said. “But I ain’t worried about that. I’d love to end up one day in that category, but I want to win. I want to bring a championship to the organization, to the city, and to the Cohen family.”

A very good answer on yet another very good day.

Lindor reached base three times, scored three times, and drove in two runs with an opposite-field single in a 10-2 rout of the Reds that completed a series sweep and left the Mets (73-39) with 15 victories in their last 17 games. Lindor tied Jose Reyes for most RBIs by a Mets shortstop in a season (81), and joined David Wright as the only Mets ever to score at least one run in 13 straight games.

At his locker afterward, Lindor said he wasn’t aware that he’d tied Wright’s record because he doesn’t pay much attention to individual pursuits. He called Reyes “somebody I grew up watching” and said it was “cool” to share a piece of franchise history with him, at least until Lindor breaks the tie with Reyes this weekend.

Francisco Lindor celebrates after scoring on Daniel Vogelbach's RBI single in the second inning of the Mets' 10-2 win over the Reds.
Francisco Lindor celebrates after scoring on Daniel Vogelbach’s RBI single in the second inning of the Mets’ 10-2 win over the Reds.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“But I’m here to try to win a World Series,” the shortstop said. “That’s all I have in mind.”

So he’s been consistent in his messaging. In fact, it isn’t messaging at all. At 66, manager Buck Showalter can separate counterfeit goods from the real deal with the best of them.

And Showalter adores his shortstop. He said Lindor fought his decision to replace him in the top of the ninth — just to get him off his feet for five minutes — and called him a “special” competitor.

“I know he’d sacrifice everything for a chance to be the last team standing,” Showalter said.

In other words, the 28-year-old Lindor acts like a ballplayer who might end up being worth the 10-year, $341-million deal after all.

Remember when he accepted Steve Cohen’s offer in the spring of 2021? Lindor compared it to hitting the Powerball jackpot, and he excitedly told New Yorkers: “Here we go, baby. We have 11 years together.”

After 2021, Mets fans thought “11 years together” sounded like 10 years too long.

Lindor spent most of that season looking as if he wanted to catch the next flight back to Cleveland. When he wasn’t busy fighting Jeff McNeil (with his hands) and the paying customers (with his thumbs), he was losing far too many battles with opposing arms. His OPS plunged to a career-low .734, and his engaging smile would come and go — but mostly go.

Asked Wednesday if being more comfortable in this market in Year 2 accounts for his vast improvement on Year 1, Lindor responded: “It has something to do with that. But it’s learning from the guys and the coaching staff, and feeding off the energy that the crowd and everybody brings helps too.”

Out of the gate this year, Showalter moved to relax his shortstop by telling him he didn’t expect his statistics to measure up to the sky-high numbers in his contract. In response, the manager said, “Francisco has been a rock through thick and thin.”

But Lindor is still haunted by small failures. A mediocre throw to Pete Alonso. A slow and indifferent tag at second base. A relay play that wasn’t as smooth as it should’ve been, and that cost him some sleep.

“He wants to be perfect in a world that’s just not perfect,” Showalter said.

Francisco Lindor belts an RBI single during the Mets' victory.
Francisco Lindor belts an RBI single during the Mets’ victory.
Robert Sabo

Tuesday night, Lindor became the first Mets shortstop ever to deliver multiple seasons of at least 20 home runs. He ranks among MLB’s top 10 in runs scored (74) and runs batted in.

Please note that behind the full-scholarship results is a walk-on’s work ethic and attention to detail. Showalter stepped into the team dining room Tuesday afternoon and found Lindor huddled with his iPad in the corner, studying Mike Minor’s release points. Hours later, Lindor sent a 2-2 changeup from the Cincinnati starter over the left-field wall.

Lindor said he learned to watch video of opponents from his former Cleveland teammate, Andrew Miller. But his commitment to being available to play every single day is ripped right out of the Derek Jeter and Eli Manning playbook.

“I came to New York to play baseball,” Lindor said. “That’s part of my job description, come out and play baseball games at the highest level I can play them.

“Buck is out there grinding, the boys are out there grinding. I want to be out there with them.”

That mentality could drive Lindor, a four-time All-Star in Cleveland, toward a long and prosperous Mets career. My colleague Mike Vaccaro, who knows more about this franchise’s history than anyone, ranks the top five all-time position players in this order: Mike Piazza, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright.

If Lindor wants to join those men, he has the time, the talent and the right mentality on his side. Playing for championships instead of stats will ultimately make him worth the very big bucks.

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