Steve Cohen and the New York Mets finally made their move by trading for superstar Francisco Lindor and reliable veteran Carlos Carrasco. This trade will have ripple effects that will be felt by Washington and the entire NL East.
Despite having a glaring need in the outfield, New York traded for one of the top players on the market in Francisco Lindor. The 26-year-old shortstop has one year left on his contract, but will instantly provide a much-needed upgrade for the Mets offense. In his career, Lindor is hitting .285, with 138 homers, 411 RBIs, and an OPS of .833. He averages 4.7 bWAR a season, posting five+ bWAR in four of his six seasons. Lindor joins budding star Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, and James McCann in a now vastly improved offense.
Steve Cohen also acquiring Carlos Carrasco is just icing on the cake. In his career, the 33-year-old starter is 88-73, with a 3.77 ERA, 1,305 strikeouts, and a 3.42 FIP. Carrasco joins the best pitcher in baseball Jacob deGrom, in a rotation that will also see Noah Syndergaard returning from the IL and Marcus Stroman back after accepting the qualifying offer. And this is just the beginning.
Mike Rizzo and Washington are known for striking early in the off-season to fill the team’s needs however, this year, the Nationals have only made one major move, trading for Josh Bell. Obviously, this is nowhere near enough to compete in the NL East, especially now with the Mets on the move. Washington will instantly feel a ripple effect, forcing Mike Rizzo’s hand.
Before this trade went down, the gap between the Atlanta Braves and the rest of the NL East was relatively wide. Now, not so much. Baring Syndergaard staying healthy, and Stroman bouncing back, the Mets have the rotational firepower to go toe to toe with Atlanta. Throw in Lindor, and the offense, while not as potent, is a threat. Washington has holes at second, third, outfield, back of the rotation, bullpen, and bench, with under two months before Spring Training starts. Mike Rizzo is one of the best in the business, but he is facing an uphill battle.
Washington needs to sign a big bat. It’s that simple. George Springer comes to mind, but he is currently looking for a contract around $175 million, pricing him way out of Washington’s range. Michael Brantley, DJ LeMahieu, and Marcell Ozuna are the team’s best bet. Each come with their own set of pros and cons, and will all cost a pretty penny. Except Washington has too much committed to not go all in, unless they want to tear it down. In the past, I have advocated for Washington to start a rebuild, but after trading two top ten prospects for Josh Bell, that option has passed. Washington’s current offense lacks the pop to contend with New York and Atlanta. The pitching staff is the National’s bread and butter, but for the first time in what feels like forever, there are some serious doubts hanging over the rotation. With New York stocking up on talent, Mike Rizzo has been backed into a corner.
Washington won’t be the only team feeling the effects of New York acquiring Lindor. In fact, the entire division has been affected by the trade-in someway. The Phillies have yet to decide if they are shedding payroll or still attempting to compete. Signing Dave Dombrowski to be the team’s new President is a win-now move, which contradicts previous statements made by the front office. Philadelphia will feel extra pressure to make sure they re-sign J.T. Realmuto in order to combat’s the Met’s improved offense. Losing him could have disastrous effects.
Miami is in an interesting position. They are at least a year away from seriously competing and have a stacked farm system. The Lindor trade affects them the least because they are quite not ready to go all in. Reaching the playoffs in 2020 showed that they are ahead of schedule, but Derick Jeter doesn’t have to rush. Instead, he can patiently build the team the way he wants and focus on next year’s off-season before making his move.
Atlanta was a win away from reaching the World Series in 2020 and was the clear favorite to win the division in 2021. The scales have slowly started to tilt towards New York and Atlanta will feel the Mets breathing down their necks. Despite have the most complete roster in the division, Atlanta could feel obligated to make an extra addition in order to be more secure.
The NL East is an arms race and the Mets just landed themselves a nuke. The dust hasn’t even settled yet and the rest of the division is already sweating. How they respond will be key in the most intriguing division in baseball.