The Mets swooped in on the Lindor sweepstakes, getting the star shortstop for Amed Rosario and a group of prospects that didn’t inspire much enthusiasm from league executives, with many believing that Cleveland got robbed.
From a Yankee fan’s perspective, the deal is a frustrating one for many reasons, from the Yanks losing a potential major upgrade in the infield should DJ LeMahieu not return, to the fact that the normally comical Mets now appear to be dead serious about becoming the best team in New York. But following the immediate breaking news of the Mets closing in on a deal with Lindor, more details emerged that included Carlos Carrasco also heading to New York. This should only add to the disdain for Yankee fans, as Carrasco represents what would have been a major upgrade for the team’s most glaring need: its starting rotation, currently loaded with unknowns outside of Gerrit Cole.
In last year’s shortened season, Carrasco pitched 68 innings and put up a 1.5 WAR, higher than any Yankee starter, including Cole (1.4). Sure, it’s a small sample size, but Carrasco, even at 34, would immediately slot in as the number two starter in the Yankees’ rotation, and if last postseason (or more like the last three) showed anything, it was the importance of more pitching depth, and Carrasco would have been a great addition. At the moment, FanGraphs pegs Carrasco for 3.5 WAR in 174 innings next year, a far better projection than any Yankee pitcher not named Cole. It’s also a better projection than any free agent available other than Trevor Bauer (that includes Masahiro Tanaka). There just aren’t many avenues to acquiring pitchers as talented as Carrasco at the moment.
With FanGraphs also projecting Rosario and Gimenez to be average major leaguers in the coming years, it’s not hard to imagine the Yankees having had a chance to take advantage of Cleveland’s penny pinching. The Mets boast a far-from-attractive farm system, and even with the Yankees’ system thinning a bit over the past few years, they could have put together comparable pieces to make this deal. Whether they tried to make a push or not may never be known, but with Lindor off the table, it feels like a disappointment. Add in Carrasco, and this looks like even more of a missed opportunity.
Missing out on the Lindor sweepstakes has the potential to hurt even more if the Yankees don’t bring back LeMahieu. But it’s hard to envision the Yanks making nearly enough moves this offseason to give the rotation the stability it needs to feel like the Bombers are World Series favorites. Carrasco would have given the Yanks two plus arms at the front of the rotation, but instead, it remains a field of question marks beyond its ace. There are other opportunities to bolster the rotation, but after seeing the structure of the Lindor/Carrasco deal, it looks like the Yankees missed a golden opportunity.