UPDATE (February 7): Cleveland.com has since edited the original interview to clarify Chris Antonetti’s statements on signing players long-term.
Turns out he was, in fact, not trying to call out his star player for not being an ideal player on and off the field, but was asked a completely separate question, which was not in the original article.
While it’s still ultimately disappointing that the Indians haven’t reached an extension with Lindor, at least now it sounds like the very reasonable explanation of “Francisco Lindor wants an absolute boatload of money which he absolutely deserves” and not that the Indians don’t believe in him.
Below is my original post about the question, unedited for posterity.
Take a second and breathe. Let’s all be rational adults here.
Chris Antonetti answered a bunch of questions from Paul Hoynes, none of which had any kind of follow-up, and in one of them he sort of sounded like he was trashing his best player who is slated to be a free agent in two years.
Everything is fine.
This is fine.
Let’s just look at the quote, surely it’s fine.
There are a variety of factors that go into those types of decisions (to offer a player an extension). Most importantly, we recognize that we are making a long-term commitment so we want to be sure that we are betting on the right type of person that will positively contribute on the field and in our clubhouse.
Oh mama. Surely there’s some context we’re missing. What does he say next?
Beyond that, for a team and player to reach an agreement on a multi-year contract, both parties need to be motivated by the desire to make something work and find common ground. Without that desire, talks never progress.
Ok, hold up. Maybe he’s not talking about Lindor, specifically. Just one of those overly broad corporate answers. Of course they need to find the right player, but there’s nothing in Hoynes’ question that would suggest he’s talking about Frankie, right?
[Question] No.2: Could the money saved in payroll cuts be used to offer Francisco Lindor an extension?
I’ve looked over these quotes countless times now, trying to find a way that I’m possibly reading it wrong.
Is there any way that Indians President Chris Antonetti is not implying his All-Star shortstop is not the “right type of person that will positively contribute on the field and in our clubhouse?” Hoynes asked nothing about either one of those things, only if recent paycuts had to do with extending Lindor and yet here he goes on this mini spiel about it.
Implying that they haven’t made a “bet” on Lindor yet because they have to be sure he brings on field production and in the clubhouse is just flat-out bizarre. Did Antonetti forget that he was asked specifically about Lindor and initiated his Generic Response to Contract Extension Protocol? Because I’m pretty sure Lindor has proved he can contribute on the field, unless the Indians are really going off the deep end about not retaining players over 30.
At the very least, the implication of the first quote is that the Indians front office still isn’t sure that Lindor can contribute and being a clubhouse presence going forward and that’s why they haven’t pulled the trigger on an extension.
The second quote could make sense, given that the Indians have reportedly been trying to sign Lindor to a long-term as far back as spring training 2017 — a story broken by small child Brody Chernoff. At the time, the deal was supposedly $100 million for seven years, but that was when Francisco Lindor was only a Rookie of the Year runner-up and All-Star, World Series starting shortstop. Now he also has an additional 7.6 fWAR season under his belt and a looming CBA negotiation that could mean more money in his pocket down the road. He bet on himself and won, big time.
What I’m saying is, I wouldn’t blame Lindor for not signing and extension now, and I wouldn’t blame Antonetti for feeling like the Indians have tried but nothing is working. But good lord, phrasing things the way he did mere weeks after losing a pair of clubhouse guys in Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley and potentially alienating another in Corey Kluber by dangling him on the trade market just doesn’t sit right. This feels weird.