The MLB offseason is underway and Cleveland Indians star Francisco Lindor is at the heart of trade rumors. With his days in Cleveland numbered, Lindor will generate plenty of interest for a blockbuster trade around the league.
The Indians are looking to shed payroll this offseason, a common theme around MLB this winter. With Lindor projected to land $21 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent, the All-Star shortstop will be traded before Opening Day in 2021.
With trade rumors circulating, let’s examine landing spots and potential packages for a Francisco Lindor trade.
Francisco Lindor traded to New York Yankees?
- Cleveland Indians receive: OF Clint Frazier, SS Oswald Peraza and RHP Roansy Contreras:
- New York Yankees land: SS Francisco Lindor
If there is a star available, the Yankees should be involved. New York fell short of its World Series aspirations this season, suffering another disappointing finish to its season. The Yankees could also lose AL MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu this offseason, which would create a gaping hole at second base. Fortunately, Lindor’s sudden availability could fix that.
Because Lindor is a rental, even with multiple suitors driving up the price, Cleveland’s return won’t be monumental. The Boston Red Sox netted Jeter Downs, Connor Wong and Alex Verdugo last winter for Mookie Betts and David Price, so we’re looking at something slightly similar. Of course, Lindor isn’t on Betts’ tier among players.
A package needs to start with Clint Frazier. Outfield is Cleveland’s biggest need and Frazier has proven he is ready to make an impact immediately. He is under team control through 2023, which is deal for Cleveland’s ownership group that doesn’t want to spend. Peraza, an international signee in 2016, boasts an impressive bat with good speed and fielding ability. He could be a part of Cleveland’s infield by 2022.
Cincinnati Reds trade for Francisco Lindor?
- Cleveland Indians receive: IF/OF Nick Senzel and RHP Hunter Greene
- Cincinnati Reds acquire: SS Francisco Lindor
We saw the Reds get aggressive last winter and the moves helped them make it back to October. Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s lineup prevented its rotation from reaching the heights it was capable of. If this team wants to take the next step and to be recognized as a World Series contender, it requires a blockbuster trade.
Lindor would hit at the top of Cincinnati’s batting order, pairing nicely with sluggers Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Jesse Winker. Suddenly, a team that scored the fourth-fewest runs last season (243) could actually provide the rotation with run support.
Senzel is a former top-10 prospect, who has been derailed by injuries and COVID-19. Under team control through 2024, the 25-year-old could play second base or center field for Cleveland. Greene, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. He is years away from being ready to pitch in the majors, but an 80-grade fastball and appealing secondary pitches would be coveted by Cleveland.
Francisco Lindor traded to Los Angeles Dodgers?
- Cleveland Indians acquire: C Keibert Ruiz, RHP Josiah Gray and 1B Edwin Rios
- Los Angeles Dodgers land: SS Francisco Lindor
The Dodgers should be perfectly happy as World Series champions, especially since Corey Seager took home World Series MVP honors. But we know the rich love getting even wealthier and if there is an opportunity to add another star to this lineup, Los Angeles should at least consider. Yes, even if that means losing Lindor next offseason.
Los Angeles could let Justin Turner walk this offseason, choosing to avoid overpaying for a 35-year-old third baseman. If that happens, Seager could move to third base if Lindor joined the Dodgers. While it might be an expensive move for this farm system, the Dodgers could afford that.
For the Dodgers, Keibert Ruiz is extremely expendable with Will Smith becoming one of MLB’s best catchers and prospect Diego Cartaya on the rise. Meanwhile, Ruiz would be an immediate everyday catcher in Cleveland. On top of that, the Indians land Josiah Gray to develop and eventually plug into their rotation late in the 2021 season.
Rated as the No. 62 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, it would be an ideal landing spot. Finally, Rios can slide in as Cleveland’s first baseman and put his eye-popping power on display. The Indians reload with young, cheap talent and the Dodgers add another MVP-caliber bat to their lineup.
New York Mets a potential landing spot?
- Cleveland Indians receive: 1B/OF Dominic Smith, SS Amed Rosario, RHP Franklyn Kilome
- New York Mets acquire: SS Francisco Lindor
Billionaire Steve Cohen is now in charge and huge changes have already been made in New York. The previous regime made an effort to land Lindor and failed. We expect Cohen to pursue big moves this offseason and when a new owner wants to make a strong first impression, blockbuster trades can happen.
As of now, there’s no guarantee the National League implements the designated hitter in 2021. If it doesn’t exist, Smith’s future is uncertain in New York with first base occupied by Pete Alonso. Coming off a breakout season (.993 OPS, 10 home runs in 50 games), Smith would be the ideal target for Cleveland. He and Amed Rosario, who could swap spots with Lindor, are both on owner-friendly contracts.
Rosario’s value has taken a hit since he was New York’s top prospect and the No. 11 overall in MLB dating back to 2016. Given he is only 24, plays great defense and is a year removed from hitting 15 home runs and stealing 19 bases, this could be an ideal MLB-ready return for Cleveland. Cohen could then bring out a blank check and sign Lindor to a massive extension.
Los Angeles Angels acquire Francisco Lindor?
- Cleveland Indians receive: OF Brandon Marsh, IF Jeremiah Jackson, RHP Chris Rodriguez, RHP Garrett Stallings
- Los Angeles Angels acquire: SS Francisco Lindor
Adding more pitching should be this club’s top priority during the winter. With that said, calls need to be made to Cleveland. We saw that Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon wasn’t enough in 2020, especially with Jo Adell struggling. But adding Lindor to this lineup could make the difference.
Andrelton Simmons will be a free agent, creating a vacancy at shortstop. Lindor would be a monumental upgrade and surrounding Trout with more help would be a nice boost. A trade package must start with outfielder Brandon Marsh, the No. 1 prospect in the Angels’ farm system and the No. 73-rated prospect in MLB. Los Angeles can include infielder Jeremiah Jackson, a former second-round pick with exciting tools for an infielder.
They will be the headliners of the deal, but it’s not quite enough. Rodriguez, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, has a nice repertoire with impressive command when healthy. He offers the upside of a mid-rotation starter, while Stallings could compete for a spot in the back of Cleveland’s rotation by 2021.
Frankly, the Angels don’t have a lot of options. Starting pitching is the main focus and Cleveland offers that as well, but that can be found in free agency. This team needs to win immediately and that means making the big moves to finally help Trout.