Toronto Blue Jays: Enough with the Francisco Lindor rumours
With the Toronto Blue Jays marching into the winter months with an open pocketbook and an armada of free agent rumours, one that won’t dissipate is the potential of trading for Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
With the World Series now over and the free agent market now in full swing, the Blue Jays front office is coming out of the gates on the aggressive, checking in with multiple high profile free agents such as pitcher Trevor Bauer and right fielder George Springer early into the off-season. Enough so that former enemy turned supporter Scott Boras is singing the praises of the team from the North, which is a nice voice to have in your corner given the clientele he has under his wing.
While the Blue Jays opening the pocketbook is something fans are not opposed to in order to help improve the current roster, there is one rumour that I really wish would just go away: trading for shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Drafted 8th overall in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, Lindor has spent the past six seasons in the AL Central with the Cleveland Indians. In 777 games with the Indians, Lindor has an impressive track record, with a .285/.346/.488 slash line to go along with 138 home runs, 191 doubles, and 99 stolen bases. He also bodes an impressive .981 fielding percentage as a shortstop to along with four All-Star game appearances, two Silver Slugger awards, and two Gold Gloves (with a Platinum Glove win in 2016).
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This off-season has been a whirlwind for the switch-hitter, as this is the last year in which he will be arbitration-eligible, meaning that he will be able to hit the open market after next season and is going to be in a position to demand some big bucks from teams across the league. With the Cleveland Indians considered a smaller market team and not likely to dish out the money to resign him as a free agent, there is a high probability that Lindor gets moved this off-season in order to capitalize on his talents before potentially losing him for nothing more than a draft pick when he rejects a qualifying offer. While Cleveland stated earlier this off-season that they don’t plan on trading him and were going to try and re-sign him to a long term deal, they have now recently changed their tune and began informing teams they were prepared to deal their star infielder.
Now don’t get me wrong, Lindor on the Toronto Blue Jays would instantly make the team better in quite a few categories, as he truly does possess the ability to be a game-changer that would drive the AL East opponents insane day after day, it’s just the scenario to acquire him that doesn’t sit well with me.
First off, Cleveland would be requiring a boatload of talent to acquire Lindor’s services, which isn’t a surprise given his stats and his talent. A few different trade scenario’s I have personally seen involve a combination of the likes of outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., prospects Kevin Smith, Alejandro Kirk, Jordan Groshans, and a few different prospect toss in’s mix and matched depending on the article.
Secondly, Lindor is going to be a free agent after the 2021 season and will be considered one of the top tier names on the board. Trying to convince the 4x All-Star to re-sign with the Blue Jays instead of testing the free agent waters and possibly bigger paydays just does not seem likely, so the risk is high that Toronto only gets one year out of the shortstop before he jumps ship to a bigger market team like the New York Yankees or L.A. Dodgers.
Lastly, what happens if COVID-19 derails the 2021 season like it did this past year? If the Blue Jays trade away a player like Gurriel Jr. and 2-3 top prospects to get another shortened season due to the virus, I don’t see how the organization really comes out ahead. He won’t get the chance to gel and mingle with the team like in a regular season and probably won’t even get to play in Toronto given the potential border restrictions. This argument is a bit looser given that there are so many questions regarding next season, but the risk is still present given the outlook of current events.
What really irks me about this whole scenario is that you are only guaranteed one year of Lindor, as a lucrative payday is looming after next season for the 27-year-old. There has been no indication on what the shortstop plans to do in the future, but I find it hard to believe that the Blue Jays will have any inside edge unless they come to the table with the most chips in their pocket. Baseball is a business and money is usually the best bargaining tool.
If he had years of arbitration or a few years left on a current deal, then I am all for trading some prospect capital to have a franchise-altering player on the Blue Jays roster for 2+ years. I would also change my tune if the team swung a trade and sign deal, where Lindor would sign a long-term deal with Blue Jays once he was officially acquired.
For argument’s sake, if the Blue Jays really were wanting to sign Lindor to a long-term contract, then why not wait a season and take a stab at him when he hits free agency in a year’s time? Ross Atkins doesn’t have to spend money this off-season, the competition would still be high to sign him, and if the organization is really high on the Puerto Rican native, then take a gamble on signing him next year and save your prospect capital for development or other trades.
In the end, the Blue Jays are no stranger to franchise-altering acquisitions, and although Lindor does have extraordinary talent, this is one scenario I would like the organization to stay away from for the time being unless a trade and sign deal is reached (as mentioned above), or if the team can absolutely fleece Cleveland for their star player without dipping too high into the prospect list.