Cleveland has expressed their intentions to move shortstop Francisco Lindor this offseason, one season before he reaches free agency. The four-time All-Star and Platinum Glove winner has had rumors surrounding his future in Cleveland for years, but now Cleveland is desperately looking to shed payroll following a season where every team experienced massive revenue loss.
Lindor was due to make $17.5 million in 2020 before the prorated salary and will likely see a raise in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Cleveland has shown they’re looking to drastically cut payroll. They made this clear when they put standout closer Brad Hand on waivers immediately after the season.
Cleveland will likely try to ask a lot for him and rightfully so, his career slash line is .285/.346/.488. He provides some of the best defense you can ask for from a shortstop, having a career 46 DRS in six seasons.
If DJ Lemahieu re-signs with the New York Yankees, it is unlikely they would pull the trigger for Lindor. However, if Lemahieu walks, Lindor is the only player in the league who would be able to fill his shoes.
The Yankees have plenty of seasoned vets and prospects that are expendable. The Indians have a hole at second base and could also use an outfielder, bullpen arms and starting pitching. It is likely they will mostly want prospects to build around and the Yankees have plenty of pieces to offer Cleveland. The Yankees have been connected to him multiple times in the past and this offseason will be no different. Let’s explore what the Yankees may have to give up in order to land the star Shortstop.
If the Yankees pursue Lindor, there is no doubt that the Indians starting asking price will start with Torres. He’s the epitome of the type of player they would want to replace Lindor. Torres struggled in his first season as the Yankees shortstop, but to give up on him after one shortened season would be naive. Torres showcased his talent in 2018 and 2019 when he was the starting second baseman providing strong offense and solid defense. The Yankees should hold on to Torres at all costs. (Also, an infield of Torres, Lindor and Gio Urshela would be too much fun to watch).
Schimidt impressed everyone at Spring Training. He should be a top of the rotation starter in the future wherever he’s pitching. The 24-year -old made his MLB debut in Sept. and although he did not show his best stuff, a small sample size should not hurt his value. He is still just as valuable as he was. Look for Cleveland to ask for Schmidt if trade talks escalate.
Jose Ramirez is the Indians starting third baseman and that will not change. However, if Cleveland feels they can utilize his talents in the outfield or have him designated hitter instead of Franmil Reyes, he could be a part of this deal. The upside in his bat could be enough to sway him towards Cleveland.
Andujar is in a weird spot. He has no spot on the Yankees anymore. Exploring a trade for him no matter which team it is should be a priority for the Yankees this offseason.
Oswald Pereza is the Yankees fourth-ranked prospect. The 20-year-old showed plenty of pop in his bat and the ability to generate high exit velocity. His speed, aggressiveness on the bases and defense is another plus side for the young shortstop. Assuming the Yankees don’t offer Torres, which they shouldn’t, expect to see Pereza as a big piece in the potential deal.
German will be returning from his suspension for his violation of MLB’s domestic violence protocols in 2021. He raised several eyebrows during the season when he posted a cryptic message on his Instagram saying he was done with baseball, but he has since retracted that statement. Hal Steinbrenner has already stated he is unsure if German will be back with the Yankees in 2021. German was lights out when on the field, but his off the field issues have plagued him. If the Indians are willing to take the baggage that comes with him, he could be apart of this deal.
Cleveland can go full circle and ask for Frazier back after trading him four-years-ago to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller trade. Frazier has shown he has matured in the past four years and has established himself as an everyday player in the big leagues. After a dreadful 2019 in the field, Frazier was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020 and has continued to impress with his bat.
Cleveland would likely ask for Torres and Deivi Garcia, but under no circumstances should they trade either of those players. Garcia has already established himself in the rotation and at 21-years-old, he’s only going to get better.
Comparing the package the Boston Red Sox received for Mookie Betts, we could see something similar. Whoever trades for him will stay have to pay Lindor excess of $20 million and there is no guarantee that he will re-sign with whichever team lands him. A package of Pereza, German, Schmidt, and Andujar or one other prospect is a strong package to offer. Keep in mind, every team suffered major financial losses this season. To take on a $20 million contract is a lot to ask of a team right now, so we could see a cheaper price than usual for a star player. If they want to reestablish themselves as the fully operational Deathstar, they should do everything they can to land Lindor.
What are your thoughts? Should the Yankees pursue Lindor? What would you offer? Comment or tweet me @sashalueck and let me know!