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The Lindor trade worked out for the Cleveland Guardians, thanks to José Ramirez

New York Mets' Francisco Lindor looks down.
Frank Franklin II
New York Mets' Francisco Lindor reacts after hitting a flyout during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, May 10, 2024, in New York.

New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has returned to Cleveland to take on the Guardians for the first time since he was traded three years ago.

From money to stats, Ideastream Public Media’s sports commentator Terry Pluto evaluated how each team, and the key players, have fared since the blockbuster trade.

In 2020, Lindor was coming near the end of his contract. When it became clear he wasn’t going to accept what Cleveland was offering, the team orchestrated a trade with the New York Mets in 2021 to avoid Lindor leaving as a free agent with the Guardians getting nothing in return.

Lindor ended up signing a 10-year, $341 million contract with the Mets, much richer than Cleveland could afford.

Meanwhile, the other star who developed in Cleveland, José Ramírez, decided to stay for much less.

They had opposite journeys to Major League Baseball.

“Francisco Lindor was always everybody's phenom, (a) first-round draft choice (who) signed for a couple million bucks. Basically, he had superstar stamped on his forehead almost from about the time he was 16 on. José Ramírez, he was nobody's phenom. He was an afterthought. Cleveland was the only team to even offer him a contract. Basically, the minimum they give a prospect out of the Dominican was $50,000, and that's what José got,” Pluto said.

Just before the 2022 season, Ramírez signed a seven-year, $141 million contract to stay in Cleveland.

“José’s like, ‘That's a lot of money. I don't want to go anywhere. They, basically, they leave me alone and let me play ball here,’” Pluto said.

Fans in Cleveland revere Ramirez. Fans in New York don't feel the same way about Lindor.

“(Ramírez is) a legend here already. They don't sing songs for Francisco Lindor in New York when he goes to bat. But what is it here? ‘’ José! José!’ They start that. It's an interesting comparison," Pluto said. "And then you watch now, the guy that came up the hard way stays in Cleveland. The other guy goes to New York, and this is where they are today. Even for Frankie Lindor, I think when he got to New York, the big expectation is, 'You're now the $340 million man. You better produce. You're in New York.' And besides, he had no goodwill in the bank when he came to New York. They don't care what you did in Cleveland,” Pluto said.

The two players have also been opposites when it comes their stats since the trade. In the last three seasons in New York, Lindor had batting averages of .230 (2021), .270 (2022) and .254 (2023). This season, he’s off to a dismal start, batting .193 with 23 RBI.

“He was always really consistent in Cleveland," Pluto said, noting Lindor's average has been under .200 all year. "I mean, it is coming up on June. It’s hard to imagine that’s where he ends up.”

As for Ramírez, he’s currently batting .253 with an American League-leading 41 runs batted in (as of Monday). In the last three seasons, his averages were .266 (2021), .280 (2022) and .282 (2023).

Meanwhile, the Guardians received Andrés Giménez in the Lindor trade. He’s emerged as a top second baseman.

“Giménez won a Gold Glove in 2022. And then in 2023, there's an award called the Platinum Glove. They give one for each league to the best defender overall, the whole league. That’s Giménez. And while he's not the hitter, power hitter or whatever, I think he's growing into that. He signed a long-term extension to stay here,” Pluto said.

Pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who was sent to New York in the trade, has returned to Cleveland. He’s currently in the starting rotation amid injuries to other key starters.

Pluto believes Cleveland has come out on top in the trade.

“I'm sure Lindor has to be feeling frustrated not only with his own play, but how the Mets are doing. And as for the Guardians, I mean, they may miss Frankie, but it's not like he sidelined the team at all. In 2022, they went through the playoffs and won a round. The same year, the Mets went to the playoffs and lost in the first round," said Pluto. "And right now, the Mets are not anywhere near contention. The Guardians are in first place. They were able to not just survive the trading of Lindor, but they thrived afterwards.”

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