After a disappointingly early postseason exit, the Dodgers are back to plotting the tweaks that will take their roster to yet another level. The initial expectation is that the Los Angeles organization will open trade talks with the Indians regarding star shortstop Francisco Lindor, unnamed sources tell Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter).
On the one hand, it’s hardly surprising to hear that the L.A. franchise has its eyes on Lindor, one of the game’s very best young players. On the other, it’s worth taking this report with a heavy dose of salt. It isn’t entirely clear from Morosi’s phrasing whether Dodgers executives have already crafted a clear plan to go after Lindor.
Even if the Dodgers are a contender for Lindor, there are plenty of obstacles to completing a swap. We’ve already seen a hint of the involvement of another coastal behemoth and numerous other clubs would surely want a crack at the superstar. The bidding would surely be intense.
And it’s not even clear just yet whether the Indians wish to take this course with their franchise centerpiece. While the Cleveland org would surely base its decision upon actual trade offers, it’ll hesitate even to launch earnest discussions — and thereby kickstart a rumor mill that would loom large over the offseason — unless it believes that the end result will be a swap.
The Dodgers aren’t exactly hurting for talent on the left side of the infield. Corey Seager wasn’t dominant in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but was still quite productive and remains a high-end young talent. Justin Turner’s glove may be slowing but his bat is just about as vicious as ever. And one of the game’s best prospects, Gavin Lux, has spent most of his professional time at shortstop (though the Dodgers utilized him at second in his debut year).
While it’d be hard to label shortstop as a need, it doesn’t take a ton of imagination to appreciate the concept of adding a mid-prime Lindor to the mix. It probably works even without a trade. Seager could shift over to third, with Turner spending more of his time at first base. Lux and Max Muncy would be the other key parts of the mix on the right side of the diamond, with Cody Bellinger spending most of his time in center field. The offensive upside of such an infield unit would be enormous.
Of course, it’s quite possible that there’d be some other changes to the L.A. roster mix, possibly even in a hypothetical swap to land Lindor. The Indians will not likely be focused on far-away talent in negotiations. Bringing aboard the exceptional talent will unquestionably require a major haul in return. Lindor, who’s closing in on his 26th birthday, is a high-grade defender and well-above-average offensive player. He’s projected to earn $16.7MM in arbitration — a big number but still well shy of his single-season open-market value. With one more arb year to go, Lindor has plenty of trade value; it’s also arguably the right time for the Indians to bite the bullet and cash him in.