Trade rumors have swirled around Francisco Lindor all winter, as the Indians’ moves to limit their payroll over the last 15 months have led to widespread speculation that Lindor will be dealt before he reaches free agency following the 2021 season. Edwin Encarnacion’s three-year, $60MM deal from the 2016-17 offseason still stands as the largest contract in Indians franchise history, and since Lindor could certainly command four times that amount as a free agent, there has been a lot of doubt that he will remain in Cleveland over the long-term.
Speaking to reporters (including MLB.com’s Mandy Bell and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes) at the TribeFest fan event today, Lindor said the Indians “haven’t offered me the right thing” in regards to a multi-year extension. Such a contract doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern for Lindor at the moment, as he is in “no rush” to pursue an extension since he is still two years away from the open market:
“Is there a right number for me right now? I haven’t really thought about it. I’m not there yet. I’m going to worry about what I got in front of my toes. A lot of money sounds pretty right now. Everything sounds pretty. A lot of years sound pretty, too. At the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for me, my family, and also the Indians’ organization.”
“If they don’t think I can stay here because of the money situation, then I won’t be here. But I do want to be in Cleveland. I love the Indians, I love their fans. The city has grown on me a lot. When it is the right time to sign an extension? I don’t know when it’s the right time. God has a plan for me and my family and I truly believe in it. What’s going to happen is going to happen.”
In regards to the Tribe’s “money situation,” Lindor downplayed the idea that the club wasn’t able to afford him, pointing out “there’s money out there. Our payroll was $120MM last year. That’s money.” That said, Lindor also acknowledged the team’s perspective on how payroll should be allocated: “The question is, is it the right time for each team…when are they going to spend the money?….Is it the right time for the Indians? I don’t know.”
To this end, Lindor seemingly implied that while he enjoys playing for the Indians, he isn’t pleased with being part of a club that one eye on the budget rather than a sole focus on being competitive. “Wherever I go, I want to win,” Lindor said. “I want to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland….It has nothing to do with the money. It has nothing to do with the years. It has nothing to do with who I like or who I don’t like. It has to do with championships. The front office tries to put a team together to win, not to save money. They’re supposed to try to put a team together to win. I’m here to try to win.”
The Reds, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Padres, and Mets have all reportedly had interest in trading for Lindor this winter, though Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona have both stated that their team isn’t looking to deal the shortstop. While a Lindor swap might not happen this offseason, the possibility can’t be ruled out for the trade deadline if the Indians aren’t in contention. Of course, Cleveland traded Trevor Bauer last July even while still in contention, though the Indians had the pitching depth to make a Bauer deal more palatable, whereas there isn’t any way for the team to so easily replace Lindor’s usual All-Star level of production.