Believe it or not, there are some teams that could use the services of Francisco Lindor, should the Indians decide they can’t re-sign him and wish to maximize his value instead of using him as a centerpiece for another two World Series attempts.
One of those teams, the latest, appears to be the Cincinnati Reds.
According to MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand, the Reds are the latest to “engage” the Indians on Lindor trade talks.
The Reds are the latest team to engage with the Indians about a potential Francisco Lindor trade, per source. It’s unclear if there’s any traction, but Reds have been aggressive on trade market before (Bauer, Puig) and have attractive trade chips (Senzel, India among them).— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 19, 2019
Regarding a potential Reds/Indians Lindor deal, don't forget they were involved in a three-team deal that landed Trevor Bauer in Cincy. Indians aren't afraid to move a player in-state and Reds aren't afraid to deal top prospects. Who knows if it will happen, but it's interesting.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 19, 2019
As with all trade rumors, it’s important to try and understand where this came from. No one told Feinsand out of the goodness of their heart that they wanted Lindor. No secret agent within the Reds organization leaked the info out on a piece of exploding paper before parachuting from a plummeting Cessna. Someone sent this to Feinsand for leverage.
Feinsand drops a lot of hints about familiarity between the two sides, but it sounds more like posturing than anything. Of course the Indians have no problem sending players to a National League team, in-state rival or no. If they can get a package in return they feel would be equal for two years of Lindor, they’ll do it. The Reds might already have a feel for what the Indians want based on previous discussions about Trevor Bauer, but it doesn’t mean anything is imminent or certain.
As Feinsand noted, however, Senzel makes sense a as part in a trade. He came up through the minors as an infielder, but primarily played in the outfield for the Reds in his rookie campaign — all positions the Indians need right now. In 414 plate appearances, Senzel slashed .256/.315/.427 with 12 home runs, which admittedly isn’t great. Steamer doesn’t project much more out of him in 2020, and his Statcast measurements, outside of a 96th percentile sprint speed, aren’t very encouraging either.
That’s not to say Senzel can’t put it together in 2020 in his age-24 season, but it would be clear the Indians aren’t getting a finished product quite yet. There would have to be more.
Outside of Senzel, it’s difficult to see anything in the Reds system wowing the Indians enough to part with Lindor. Their highest prospect as of this writing, via MLB Pipeline, is right-handed pitcher Hunter Green, who ranks as No. 49 prospect in all of baseball. Their best position player is Jonathan India at No. 93 overall, but he’s a third baseman who is even further away from debuting their the Indians’ own Nolan Jones.
If anything, if the Indians truly have their heart set on Senzel and a couple other minor prospects for Lindor, it feels like the type of deal they could just wait another year for. Ride Lindor out for another year, another shot at a World Series, and get Senzel in the 2020 offseason.