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Offishial news, 1/8/21: Frankie goes Big Apple; Marlins MiLB updates

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The NL East has added even more starpower for the Marlins to contend with. Will they regret sitting out the Francisco Lindor sweepstakes?

Cleveland Indians v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Lindor traded to Mets

Arguably the biggest move of the MLB offseason was announced Thursday afternoon, and it’s bad news for the Marlins. Indians stars Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco have been added to the Mets while a package of Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene is headed to Cleveland.

Carrasco has two more guaranteed years left on his contract with a club option for 2023; Lindor could test free agency next winter, but it’s expected that the Mets will lock him up long term before then.

For a team that had questionable starting rotation depth, is nearly a decade removed from getting great production from the shortstop position and was just acquired by Major League Baseball’s wealthiest owner, this blockbuster makes all the sense in the world. In November, I made the case for the Marlins to get involved in the Lindor sweepstakes, in large part to “block” him from potentially landing with an NL East rival. And now here we are.

To be fair, the 2021-22 free agent class should be loaded with veteran shortstops. Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Báez and Carlos Correa will hit the open market if not extended beforehand, and Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons may be available once again if they settle for one-year deals this offseason. That timing allows the Marlins to observe how Miguel Rojas ages as a 32-year-old and get more data from Jazz Chisholm in a big league setting—maybe they won’t need a shortstop after all!

Regardless, it hurts to see one of the league’s most well-rounded and marketable players go to a divisional opponent.

Delayed MiLB season

As had already been widely speculated and now confirmed by Baseball America, minor league affiliates at the Double-A level and below won’t begin their 2021 seasons until May at the earliest. The schedule shift stems from an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by having adequate social distancing during spring training. Lower-level players won’t even report to camp until after MLB and Triple-A players leave.

However, the biggest driving factor here is attempting to maximize gate revenue at MiLB games. The longer the delay, the more Americans can get their vaccinations, which would allow teams to loosen restrictions regarding fan attendance.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Marlins director of minor league operations Geoff DeGroot visited the organization’s new affiliates in Pensacola (Double-A) and Beloit (High-A) this week.

Marlins fans are anxious to see recent first-round draft picks JJ Bleday and Max Meyer reach the majors, but given these circumstances, I would be surprised if they got anything more than a couple of coffee in 2021. There is no substitute for MiLB game reps and the pandemic continues to deprive them of that.

Walk-off Links

  • New podcast! My first of 2021 features an interview with Beloit Snappers expert Ben Witkins, who’s leading a resistance movement to rebrand the Snappers as the “River Rockers” rather than accept any of the cheesy suggestions allegedly being considered by the team.

  • The Miami Herald’s Jordan McPherson has a pod for you, too.
  • Lewin Díaz came through with a booming double for Estrellas Orientales to help the team fend off elimination in the Dominican Winter League postseason. They trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series versus Gigantes del Cibao, with Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
  • Christina De Nicola is continuing Joe Frisaro’s tradition of Marlins inbox columns on MLB.com. Here is her first one.
  • Separate from that, De Nicola also reports that the prolonged negotiations surrounding the Marlins’ next local television contract should be wrapped up in time for spring training.
  • Will spring training actually begin in February as planned? And if so, should MLB allow fans to attend the exhibition games? SB Nation Reacts below. Sign up here to have your voice heard in future surveys.

Poll

Where will Sixto Sánchez finish in the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year voting?

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  • 81%
    1st, 2nd or 3rd
    (43 votes)
  • 18%
    4th or lower
    (10 votes)
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