The 2020 season ended in more disappointment for the Indians, who reached the playoffs but were once again unable to break a World Series drought that has gone back to their most recent title in 1948. The Indians may again try to contend next season, but it’s entirely possible they’ll do so without superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. Although the charismatic four-time All-Star won’t even turn 27 until next month, he’s only a year from a trip to free agency, and odds are that the low-budget Indians won’t be able to extend him. With Lindor due to earn anywhere from $17.5MM to $21.5MM in arbitration, it could make sense for the Indians to listen to trade offers before next season. If that happens, here’s a group of teams that might inquire…
- New York seems to have its long-term answer at shortstop in Gleyber Torres, but he had a so-so season, after which general manager Brian Cashman indicated he’s not a lock to remain at the position. With second baseman DJ LeMahieu set to reach free agency, the Yankees will have to address their middle infield in the coming months. What better way to replace LeMahieu than by acquiring Lindor? He’d grab short and allow the Yankees to move Torres back to the keystone, where he gained a large amount of experience from 2018-19.
- This should be an aggressive offseason for the Mets, who figure to change owners from the Wilpons to Steve Cohen. If Cohen wants to make an immediate, headline-grabbing impact, there won’t be many better ways than by acquiring Lindor. The Mets aren’t necessarily set at short, where Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario were more OK than great in 2020.
- Regardless of whether the Angels acquire Lindor, they’re probably going to add a new starting middle infielder this offseason. David Fletcher’s capable of playing shortstop, so they’re not necessarily a shoo-in to pick up someone there. However, with Andrelton Simmons set to hit free agency, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add a high-profile replacement and keep Fletcher at second. The Angels, having missed the playoffs six years in a row, could decide to go big on Lindor. He’d look good in a lineup with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
- The Braves received solid production from shortstop Dansby Swanson in 2020, but after failing to take home a championship once again, would they consider a sizable splash in their infield? It seems possible, especially considering their uncertainty at third base. In the event of a Lindor acquisition, the Braves could either move Swanson to the hot corner or make Swanson part of the (a) trade.
- Shortstop wasn’t an issue in 2020 for the Phillies, who benefited after signing Didi Gregorius to a $14MM contract. The problem for Philly is that it may lose Gregorius in free agency, leaving the position as a question mark heading into the offseason. Lindor would make for a more-than-adequate Gregorius replacement if the latter leaves.
- Flaws are typically hard to find on the Dodgers’ roster, but considering their deep farm system and their penchant for pursuing stars in trades (Mookie Betts and Manny Machado, to name a couple in recent years), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them involved in the Lindor sweepstakes. The Dodgers are fine with moving players all over the diamond, so even though there’s no clear “fit” for Lindor in LA – which boasts Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Gavin Lux among its returning middle infielders – the club could probably make it work.
- Toronto already has an-up-coming shortstop in Bo Bichette, but perhaps the club would be willing to shift its infield around to accommodate Lindor after a playoff season. Bichette could move to second or third, giving the Jays an infield consisting of him, Lindor, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. On paper, that may be among the scariest IF units in the game.
- A Lindor pursuit could be out of the question for the Reds, but they do need immediate aid at shortstop. Picking up Lindor would give the team a better chance to contend in 2020, and it would hand Cincinnati an opportunity to send Jose Garcia back to the minors for further seasoning.
- The A’s may not have the financial clout to pull this off, but all bets could be off if it’s just for a year. Either way, the A’s, who are coming off a division-winning season, will have to figure out their middle infield before next season. Starting shortstop Marcus Semien is slated for free agency, leaving the A’s without a solution there for the time being.
- Considering Cleveland and Minnesota are in the same division, it seems unlikely they’ll match up on a Lindor trade. Still, if the Twins make a compelling offer, the Indians would have to listen. Adding Lindor would allow the Twins to move current starting shortstop Jorge Polanco into a utility role, though that’s assuming he wouldn’t be involved in a possible deal.
- The Cubs already have a shortstop in Javier Baez, but he had a shockingly rough 2020 and does have extensive experience at second base. Maybe president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who’s seeking to change around the Cubs’ offense, would acquire Lindor and move Baez to the keystone in hopes of giving the club a jolt. Chicago does have a notable young middle infielder in Nico Hoerner, but he hasn’t hit since debuting in 2019.