According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Cleveland Indians intend to trade Francisco Lindor by Opening Day.
Cleveland, strapped for money, intend to trade All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor by opening day, several rival teams have been informed. Lindor earned $17.5 million last season and is projected to earn about $21 million in salary arbitration in his final year before free agency— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 5, 2020
As much as I would love to chalk this one up to Bob’s history of dubious reporting, this news should come as a surprise to no one.
The Indians are in a position to dump a ton of salary this offseason, to the point where Francisco Lindor’s projected $21 million salary estimate could account for as much as 30% of their entire payroll. When you are in the midst of crying poor and those cries are amplified by an ongoing global pandemic and a year of lost revenues, there is no way that is happening.
What Nightengale’s tweet is missing is the juicy unknown bits: Who will be the bidders, and what kind of bids will the Indians see? The pandemic has likely trimmed the number of suitors down considerably. Not only will fewer teams be willing to take on Lindor’s final year of arbitration salary, but fewer teams are going to be banking on extending him like the Dodgers did with Mookie Betts last year. And, speaking of the Dodgers, that’s one team that the Indians could have leaned on for a desperation trade if they had not just won their first World Series in 32 years.
If Francisco Lindor has played his last game in Cleveland, he will finished his Indians career having played in 777 games with multiple playoff appearances, one World Series run, and slashing .285/.346/.488 with 138 home runs along the way. In that short amount of time he has accumulated enough FanGraphs WAR to be the 19th best player in Indians history, ahead of the likes of Omar Vizquel, Albert Belle, and Travis Hafner.