PORT ST. LUCIE — Francisco Lindor, carrying his green shortstop’s glove, eventually deduced on which field he belonged for workouts Monday at the Mets spring training complex.
“It’s clear I don’t have that locked down, so I have got to figure it out,” Lindor said after the team’s first full-squad workout.
Also not locked down: His future.
Lindor’s arrival to camp has started the clock on a potential long-term extension that will keep him with the Mets for the duration of his career. Lindor, 27, can become a free agent after this season.
Extension talks haven’t begun yet, according to Lindor — who reiterated his desire to have any such discussions complete before Opening Day. Lindor’s negotiations with Cleveland stalled last season, prompting the team to trade him with Carlos Carrasco to the Mets.
“We haven’t found the time [to negotiate] and I obviously have to get to know the organization, get to know the people and they have to get to know me,” Lindor said. “If something comes up we’ll see in the future, that is between my agent and Sandy [Alderson, team president] and the rest of the staff. It’s been nonexistent, the conversations. It’s too early, I think.”
Acting general manager Zack Scott said, “the sooner the better,” when asked for a potential timetable to launch negotiations.
Lindor is well aware of the 14-year deal worth $340 million that shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. received from the Padres last week that could serve as a benchmark of sorts for him. Tatis is five years younger, but hadn’t even reached arbitration eligibility before agreeing to the deal.
“Tatis got an outstanding deal for him,” Lindor said. “I am truly happy for him. He deserves it, his family deserves it and that shows the game is headed in the right direction. There’s two $300 million players on the same team [Manny Machado is the other], so the game is headed in the right direction.
“I’m happy for him and excited to watch him play for the next 14 years. God willing he stays healthy and that is what he does, and especially being in the National League this year, it will be fun to play against him, which I have never had a chance to play against him.”
Lindor rejected an offer from Cleveland that was believed to be worth more than $200 million. And he is ready to become a free agent if he doesn’t hear the right number from the Mets.
“I have never been scared about free agency, so it’s not like I have got to rush to sign a deal,” he said.
The Mets surrendered Andres Gimenez, Amed Rosario, Isaiah Greene and Josh Wolf in the deal for Lindor and Carrasco, so the organization would prefer a long-term marriage with the shortstop, even in a free-agent market at the position that could include names such as Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Javy Baez and Trevor Story.
“Any time you are talking to a player about an extension, you are looking to find that middle ground that makes sense for both the player and the club,” Scott said. “You can’t force those things all the time. It takes two parties to try to make that work and if it doesn’t work for one you are not going to get a deal and that is OK. You never go into a negotiation with an all-costs type of attitude. You need to think about what’s right for the present and future of your club.”
Lindor blamed his subpar 2020 season offensively on changing his routine in the weight room; he says by the end of the season he was fatigued. Lindor slashed .258/.335/.415 last season with eight homers and 27 RBIs in 60 games.
“I didn’t give my best in the weight room and that showed in the last week of the season, I got tired,” he said. “It’s [working harder] during the season this year to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”