Blue Jays: ESPN Insider predicts Blue Jays or Mets for Lindor
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the pursuit of Francisco Lindor via trade is likely to come down to the Blue Jays and one other club.
In ESPN MLB Insider, Jeff Passan’s latest visit on the Talkin’ Baseball podcast, he predicted that the winner in the trade pursuit of Francisco Lindor is likely to be the Blue Jays or Mets. When host, Jimmy O’Brien asked Jeff where Lindor was headed this offseason, Jeff responded bluntly and without hesitation, “Toronto or New York (Mets).” He even went as far to rule out the Yankees altogether.
Although the Mets have the resources to make something happen with Cleveland, the Blue Jays are situated to be a much more competitive bidder if they really wanted to. Not only is the Jays farm system ranked much higher as per MLB Pipelines September rankings, but Jays GM Ross Atkins and President Mark Shapiro have a very good rapport with Cleveland. Shapiro and Atkins have worked for the Cleveland organization in some capacity for 24 years and 14 years, respectively. On the flip side, the Mets are in the NL and there is about a thousand good reasons to trade him out of the AL if you’re Cleveland. It all really depends on what they value more, a better prospect package/MLB-ready player from the Jays or shipping Lindor out of the AL altogether.
The most concerning part of any potential trade for Lindor is that he only has one more season of control before he hits the open market. It wouldn’t be wise for any team to jump the gun for Lindor, especially if they are not ready to make an extension offer to justify the trade. Lindor is probably going to join the $300+ million club when (or if) he hits the open market and players like that have no reason to take any kind of discount. To add insult to his one remaining year of control, Cleveland has asked for a very hefty price tag.
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Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said that he was told by Cleveland executives that they were highly interested in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. If you ask me, this would be a silly trade for the Jays. I already mentioned the whole issue about contract control, but theres also the element of dollars itself. Lindor is set to make $17 million USD this season and that number will only go up if Toronto hypothetically extended him.
One player doesn’t make a team in baseball and the Angels and Mike Trout are a perfect example of that. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is on a very team friendly contract with just $14.6 million USD on the books for the next 3 seasons. Why trade a cheap .300 hitting, gold glove finalist stud of a LF for $17 million of Lindor, when you will just need to spend even more money to figure out a replacement in LF and possibly replace Lindor himself in the following season. That doesn’t fit the bill for this front offices goal of building a sustainable winner. If trading Gurriel Jr. is the only option for the Jays in negotiations, then they may as well pivot towards using that $17 million in an area where they can retain their star LF and still have money to add in other areas. Moreover, it would just be redundant if the Jays traded away Gurriel Jr. in this situation.
I still believe that the mentions of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is just a negotiation starter for Cleveland and a way of showing the rest of the market how much they value Lindor. It is not uncommon for teams to initially set the asking price very high to drive up the trade targets demand. However, I don’t think any other team in the Lindor sweepstakes would be willing to go that high for one year of a star who had a down season in 2020. With that being said, the asking price should go down for Lindor as the market progresses. Cleveland does not need a ‘win-now’ player as exhibited by their selling approach over the past couple of years. Tier 1 prospects who are close to MLB-ready is where I think the asking price will shift and I think Cleveland will be content with that. The Jays have a much deeper farm system than the Mets and could offer a very attractive package in that regard.
The Jays are probably the best suitor in the Lindor sweepstakes. If Cleveland does trade him, there is pretty good case to be made that it will be to the Blue Jays. It all just depends on how much they are willing to give up.