With the Cleveland Indians and star shortstop Francisco Lindor failing to come to an agreement on an extension a shorten season throws another wrench in Cleveland’s future.
Few teams have had a worse offseason than the Indians who have reportedly been trying to work out some type of extension with franchise player Francisco Lindor to no avail. There were plenty of trade rumors during MLB’s Winter Meetings citing both the Dodgers and the Red as seriously interested parties, but those rumors eventually fizzled out.
Cleveland’s front office and the Dolan family ownership group have had the majority of fan backlash pointed towards them for failing to get some type of extension done with the team’s best player.
However, an interview with The Athletics’ Keith Law on Cleveland local radio station 92.3 The Fan shed some light on Lindor’s refusal to discuss an extension with the Indians.
Longtime Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes also chimed in on the conversation in a recent mailbag article, acknowledging that Lindor is looking to be one of the top five highest-paid players in the game.
“Lindor, for whatever reason, has been on a free-agent mission. He wants to be one of five highest-paid players in the game and he’ll probably get there. As in all successful negotiations, it takes two to tango. That never seemed to work with the Tribe, Lindor and his agent, David Meter.”
Hoynes also adds that after Lindor turned down the Indians’ $100 mil extension offer back in 2017, it was already assumed that the now 26-year-old shortstop would at some point walk.
The Indians have no good options
So, why in the world did the Indians not trade Lindor this offseason? A great question that can be answered with another question- why do the Indians never spend money?
Small market teams depend heavily on the revenue generated from ballpark and ticket sales, so having a popular player like Lindor definitely helps. But if there is a season in 2020, games are expected to be played without fans, not only the Indians but the league as whole will be feeling the financial hurt from empty ballparks.
The Indians are already paying Lindor $17.5 mil this season after negotiating a deal prior to arbitration, the 2nd highest contract handed out to a second-year arbitration player. Even with a shortened season, Lindor shouldn’t have a problem negotiating another pay increase in arbitration after this season.
A trade seems destined at this point and has since the end of last season, and the situation has only gotten worse as 2020 as progressed. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indians had little shot of bettering their ballclub from a Lindor trade, now it’s essentially a lost cause.
It’s just a head-scratching move from Cleveland why they didn’t pull the trigger on some of the reported offers earlier in the offseason. Especially if they already knew extension talks with Lindor had been going nowhere since 2017.
And now with a shortened season it only compounds these previous decisions, especially if the Indians do decide to trade Lindor. Other teams know now that Lindor doesn’t want to come back to Cleveland and they know that the Indians do not want to pay more Lindor money in 2021 just to walk away at the end of the season.
So the Indians can either ride it out with Lindor through the end of his contract, which team president Chris Antonetti has already hinted at as a possibility or trade the Indians and the city of Cleveland’s current best athlete for peanuts.
Either way, Cleveland has already lost.