Francisco Lindor landing spots: Why these four teams could pull off in-season trade for Indians star


On Monday, it was reported that Cleveland had tabled extension talks with star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Seeing as how Lindor is two seasons away from free agency, and how Cleveland discussed him in trades during the winter, per league sources, it seems more likely than not that he’s about to enjoy his final Opening Day with the organization.

Granted, that doesn’t mean a Lindor trade is coming soon. Cleveland could put off the decision until next winter. Indeed, the timing will hinge on how the team performs during the season. If Cleveland enters July without playoff aspirations, they might hasten the process in order to leverage the trade deadline and maximize their return.

Nevertheless, we figured we’d update a post from November on Lindor’s likeliest landing spots. Do note that we’ve removed the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks from the board. The Dodgers would seem invested in keeping Mookie Betts, which probably takes them out of the equation. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, extended Nick Ahmed. We think that makes them more likely to pursue Kris Bryant than Lindor, should they go after either.

Now, onto the list.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

Francisco Lindor could be on the move over the next 12 months.
USATSI

1. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have been bold over the past two offseasons as they attempt to make their first postseason since 2013. General manager Nick Krall has either traded for or signed Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, and Shogo Akiyama. 

It’s possible that all the moving and shaking has left the Reds capped out. Their Opening Day payroll is projected to top $140 million, setting a franchise-high by roughly $15 million. This comes after the Reds set their current franchise record for payroll last year, topping $120 million for the first time ever.

If the Reds can find some additional financial wiggle room — and being in first place in the division might just do the trick — then adding Lindor would make sense. Some rival executives have even speculated the Reds would be willing to part with Nick Senzel to get a deal done.

2. San Diego Padres

The Padres are always on these lists for the same basic reasons: they have a loaded farm system and a general manager, in A.J. Preller, who is prone to making blockbuster deals. There’s a sense within the industry that Preller needs to win, and win soon, in order to maintain his job security. That’s the kind of combination that could get a Lindor deal done.

Though the Padres would seem to have a quality shortstop of their own in place already, in Fernando Tatis Jr., his defensive struggles could force a move elsewhere. (He committed a position-leading 14 throwing errors last season in just 83 games.) If San Diego added Lindor, they could slide Tatis to center field, potentially upgrading two spots at once.

Of course, Preller could instead prioritize landing a starting pitcher, or some other hitter, like Bryant. The point is that San Diego is likely to be in play for most big names over the next year.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have been tied to Bryant, with executives identifying third-base prospect Alec Bohm as the key to those talks. In theory, anyway, the Phillies could dangle Bohm to land Lindor. 

In practice, it’s unclear if the Phillies would be willing to displace Didi Gregorius. Perhaps that could change if he hasn’t shown proof of life closer to the deadline. Alternatively, the Phillies could become more involved in pursuing Lindor come next winter, as Gregorius is in town on a one-year deal.

4. Atlanta Braves

We still think the Braves are well-positioned to land another star. They could consolidate some of their young pitching, and they could use the savings they created with the submarket long-term extensions signed by Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr.

Whether or not Braves ownership is willing to sign off on another massive long-term deal (the kind required to retain players like Lindor) is anyone’s guess, especially given that Freddie Freeman will need a new contract after his current one wraps up at the end of the 2021 season.

As such, we’re probably overrating the Braves’ chances of landing Lindor. It would be fun though, wouldn’t it?

Other teams who received consideration: New York Mets; St. Louis Cardinals; Texas Rangers.





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