Cleveland Indians President of Baseball Operations, Chris Antonetti, says the team expects Francisco Lindor to remain an Indian…for now. He would be an immediate upgrade to any team so what would it cost and who can pay the price?
Francisco Lindor is an incredible baseball player. The star SS for the Cleveland Indians is two seasons from free agency and the Indians will unlikely be able to retain him at free-agent prices. Every MLB team knows this and has been calling the Indians about Lindor. In an MLB.com interview, Antonetti made it known that teams are unsurprisingly interested and calling frequently about Lindor.
“I can’t control the conduct of other teams and them calling us with interest and wanting to explore things,” Antonetti continued. “As I’ve shared with you, we have a responsibility to be responsive to those teams when they engage with us.
Between those comments and owner Paul Dolan telling fans to “Enjoy Him,” it seems the consensus is Lindor will be traded. So if its a matter of “when” as opposed to “if”, lets trade Lindor and see what teams could acquire him. The cost will be painful but that is what happens when one of the best players in baseball is available.
As we have done in previous versions of this exercise, to trade Lindor, we have to approximate his value. Outside of an ankle sprain in 2019, Lindor has been durable playing in 150 games over the past 3 seasons. Spotrac estimates Lindor will take home $16.7M in arbitration this year. We will estimate his final year of arbitration at $24M so in total we expect Lindor to make ~$41M for his remaining two years of control.
Steamer projects Lindor to be a 6 fWAR player this year where he will be one of top shortstops and players in all of baseball. The 26-year-old topped out at 7.6 WAR in 2018 so while he could play to that level, acquiring teams aren’t going to pay for the 95 percentile outcome. Throw in a 6.5 win season for his last year of control, Lindor’s total on-field value comes right in at $100M ($8M/WAR valuation). Take out his salary and we get a surplus-value $60M which per FanGraphs’ research, puts just about any type of prospect or player on the table.
So what team has the need or the ability to pull off what would be a massive trade?