If the Cleveland Indians allow shortstop Francisco Lindor to hit free agency in a couple years, these five teams should be ready to pony up.
Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is a legit young star, with more than 30 home runs in each of the last two seasons while an above average defensive player. He’s currently dealing with a calf injury, which may delay the start to his season, but he’ll be good to go in short order and ready for another big season.
The Indians didn’t do a lot this offseason, and even shed some payroll, as they are the tentative favorite to win the AL Central with arguably the best top-to-bottom starting rotation in baseball.
Speaking to Zack Meisel of The Athletic about payroll concerns now and going forward, Indians’ owner Paul Dolan spoke more specifically about Lindor’s future in Cleveland when prompted to address fan concerns about it.
We control him for three more years. Enjoy him and then we’ll see what happens.
Lindor will make $10.85 million this year, after going through arbitration for the first time. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left, with raises coming if he continues to perform at a high level. Absent a contract extension with the Indians, which now seems unlikely based on Dolan’s comments, he’ll hit the free agent market after the 2021 season.
Virtually upon officially hitting the open market, assuming he does, Lindor will turn 28 years old. So he should still have some peak years left, and the Indians may be priced out of keeping him. Trading him now lingers as a possibility for Cleveland, but these five teams should start planning for a run at Lindor when he becomes a free agent.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees have been far more responsible financially with George Steinbrenner’s sons running the show. Still, they can’t ever be ruled out in the mix for any notable free agent.
By the time the 2021 season concludes, Didi Gregorius will likely be gone and Gleyber Torres can play either middle infield spot. A full-time move to second base for Torres, assuming it doesn’t take full hold this year, would easily be done to accommodate Lindor. Torres is a looming candidate for a contract extension, but as it sits now he’s under team control through the 2024 season.
A middle infield of Lindor and Torres has to be a promising prospect for the Yankees, and Lindor may be drawn to the idea of wearing the iconic pinstripes.