We may be in for at least a couple of months of rumors centering on superstar Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, who came up in trade speculation earlier Monday. The Dodgers are reportedly set to explore taking an offseason run at Lindor, already a four-time All-Star who won’t turn 26 until next month. Los Angeles is likely part of a large group of teams with interest in Lindor, as he’s clearly an elite, in-his-prime player who holds down one of baseball’s most valuable positions with aplomb.
In Cleveland’s shoes, it’s hardly a slam dunk the team will market Lindor. Since Lindor debuted in 2015, the Indians have come within striking distance of a World Series title, they’ve won three division championships and haven’t finished below .500. Even this season, which was a disappointment and non-playoff campaign for the club, it still won 93 games. Lindor was no small part of the Indians’ latest respectable performance, as he accounted for 4.4 fWAR, 34 home runs and 22 stolen bases despite missing the first couple weeks of the season with calf and ankle injuries. Factoring in his most recent output, the switch-hitting Lindor is tied with the venerable Jose Altuve for sixth among position players in fWAR (27.2).
Thanks to Lindor’s career-long brilliance, he’s set to earn a somewhat lofty salary in 2020 – his penultimate year of arbitration. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Lindor will rake in $16.7MM, which obviously isn’t the type of salary just any team could absorb. However, Lindor is spectacular enough to make it worthwhile, and with the possible exception of Didi Gregorius, the upcoming class of free-agent shortstops offers little in the way of answers. With that in mind, the Indians probably wouldn’t have difficulty landing appealing offers for Lindor.
Of course, whether the Indians are willing to seriously consider moving Lindor (or someone like right-hander Corey Kluber, another speculative trade candidate) is in question. There still appears to be enough talent on hand for the team to push for a playoff berth next season, after all. The Indians could easily retain Lindor and attempt to make another run at a World Series in 2020, or they could at least keep him until the July trade deadline and see where they stand at that point. That said, the trade value of Lindor is surely high now, and the small-market Indians appear highly unlikely to extend him before he’s eligible to reach free agency. Perhaps the upcoming winter is the right time to aggressively market Lindor, then. How do you expect it to pan out?
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