Asdrubal Cabrera spent eight seasons with the Indians, most of them good. He's gone now though, which immediately raises the question: Is it time for Francisco Lindor to be promoted to the big leagues?
In a word, NO.
I understand the temptation, and I'd certainly enjoy seeing him fielding everything in sight at Prgoressive Field this weekend, but I don't think it's the smart move for the team.
Lindor was promoted to Triple-A less than two weeks ago, but he's certainly made the adjustment well. He's batting .323/.400/.548 there, with 2 home runs already. My belief that he shouldn't be called up right now isn't to say that he's not ready to handle it. Whether or not he's developmentally ready isn't the only issue though; things are more complicated than that.
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If the Indians bring him up right now, Lindor will be under team control through 2020. If they wait, and don't bring him up until the end of next April, three or four weeks into the season, he'll be under team control through 2021. I know some fans have a hard time making seven years from now a consideration at all, but the future will be here before we know it, and if Lindor becomes the player we hope he's going to be, he's going to be incredibly valuable in 2021, far more so than could be right now. This isn't the time for instant gratification.
The only reason to call him up right now is to try and make a push for the playoffs this season. After all, maybe the Indians will be awful in 2021, with no chance of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, right now they're in the chase for the second Wild Card spot. Strike while the iron is hot, right?
I hate to say it, but the iron isn't actually anything more than lukewarm right now, and you can tell the front office knows it, because while they're saying all the right things about not giving up on this season, they just traded two veterans for prospects. The Indians have a losing record, and they're in 5th place in that chase for the second Wild Card spot (forget about the AL Central race, that's just a crazy man's pipe dream at this point). FanGraphs lists the Tribe's playoff chances at 17%, Baseball Prospectus has them at 14%.
Bringing up Lindor (who, ready or not, isn't going to be worth more than an extra win or so over what's left of the season) wouldn't boost those chances to 50% or 40%, or even 25%. Even with Lindor, the Indians wouldn't havy anything more than a 20% or so of making the playoffs. They'd be a longshot, just like they are now.
Boosting the team's playoff chances by 3 or 4% isn't worth giving up that extra year of having Lindor down the road. Hopefully the Indians extend LIndor, and he plays his entire fantastic career with the Indians, but we can't know if that will happen, and even if it does, him being under team control a year longer at the time of an extension would allow the Indians to get a better deal on him.
Put Mike Aviles or (better yet) Jose Ramirez at shortstop for the next few weeks. You can bring Lindor up for the last couple weeks of the season, to wet fans' beaks, sell a few tickets and some t-shirts (though such a move will mean delaying his 2015 arrival by a couple extra weeks). Don't jump the gun on him right now though.