While the Blue Jays may not be making a major trade for Francisco Lindor, the front office is apparently open-minded about an impact roster move.
According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and MLBtraderumors.com, the Blue Jays at least checked in with the Cleveland Indians about their asking price for Francisco Lindor. It doesn’t sound like things went beyond the initial phone call, but there are a few things to take away from this tidbit of news.
I’ve already talked about the willingness of the Blue Jays’ budding young stars to move around the diamond, and that’s going to be helpful to the Blue Jays front office as they continue this rebuild. If they had acquired Lindor without somehow having to give up either Bo Bichette or Cavan Biggio, one or both could have moved to a new position in order to make it happen. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen with Lindor, but it could give Ross Atkins and company a lot of options to upgrade the roster in the future.
I also can’t help but chuckle at how much my attitude has shifted from a few months ago, and the latest evidence came when I read the Lindor rumour. Atkins made the statement that he and the Blue Jays are “extremely open to something of significant impact”, and something like that might have made me laugh out loud if I’d read it in October or November. However, after the Blue Jays signed Hyun-Jin Ryu and showed us they’re serious about making big improvements over the next year or two, the idea no longer sounds ridiculous.
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The problem with acquiring a player like Lindor is that he only has two years of contract control remaining before he’ll hit free agency. Bringing someone of his calibre on board would definitely provide a big boost to this young team, but I don’t know that they’re just one player away from being a World Series contender in 2020, even with the other off-season additions they’ve made. More likely, a realistic goal for the Blue Jays this season would be to meet or beat the .500 mark with their record, as their talented young roster still has a lot of valuable experience to gain. I don’t think it’s out of the question that they could be serious playoff contenders in 2021, but Lindor would be a free agent following that season, and that doesn’t give them a very big window.
Lindor isn’t the only “impact” player in baseball though, and the fact that Atkins is speaking openly about a willingness to entertain a trade of that magnitude is interesting. My colleague Jim Scott wrote about the idea of the Blue Jays trading for someone like Nolan Arenado, who has been widely rumoured to be on the trade block, and while I don’t think the Blue Jays will go down that road, it’s another example of a star player being made available.
Unfortunately, it’s become far too common for teams to be cutting payroll and looking to offload money from their payroll, even for a perennial All-Star like Arenado. There’s no good reason for Cleveland to be entertaining the idea of trading Lindor either, and yet there have been serious rumours for a while now. The same could be said for others like Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, or Kris Bryant of the Cubs, both former MVPs who have been discussed as trade candidates at one time or another.
I can’t speak for Atkins, but based on what I’ve seen from him over his tenure with the Blue Jays, I’m guessing he and the front office would be willing to pay the price to add an impact player through a trade. However, I suspect it would mean that player would have to have three or more years of contract control remaining, especially considering where they are in the rebuild right now. A year from now that caveat could be in a different place with a more immediate window of contention, and another year to figure out where the Blue Jays are at.
At the end of the day, I don’t expect the Blue Jays to make another “impact” move to the roster ahead of Opening Day after signing guys like Ryu, Tanner Roark, Travis Shaw, and more, and chances are that calling about Lindor was at least in part to do their due diligence. However, it’s nice to be in a place where a rumour like that isn’t just laughed off, and I suspect it won’t be long until the Blue Jays are ready to make that type of deal.