The Mike Clevinger trade may offer a glimpse into Francisco Lindor’s future.
Mike Clevinger put himself on the hot seat the minute he was caught going out for a night on the town a few weeks back. The Cleveland Indians sent him and Zach Plesac to exile at the team’s training site and only Clevinger made it back for another start.
Then came the somewhat expected news Monday that the team had traded the hard-throwing right-hander for a haul of six players from the San Diego Padres. One player included in the deal is a highly-regarded shortstop. So what does that mean for Francisco Lindor’s future in town?
Francisco Lindor’s also on the clock
The Indians already have several top shortstop prospects waiting in the wings. Tyler Freeman is the No. 2 overall prospect in the system, according to MLB Pipeline, and he is a shortstop. New arrival Gabriel Arias is now ranked fifth in the system. There are three other shortstops ranked No. 15 or higher in the system as well.
Both Freeman and Arias have yet to rise up through the minors. There is now a competition in place within the organization to find that shortstop of the future.
The surplus of shortstops was already known to Indians fans. But adding yet another top shortstop prospect seems to indicate there is a zero percent chance the team retains the superstar Lindor.
Lindor is under team control through next season when he enters his final year of arbitration. This is similar to what fans saw with Mookie Betts. The Boston Red Sox were essentially forced to make a move last offseason to ensure a proper return if the plan was never to retain him in the first place.
Such a move has been a dark cloud over the Indians organization since Lindor became an All-Star. Stockpiling shorstops throughout the past has put a succession plan in place. Acquiring Arias in this blockbuster Clevinger trade only drives that point home further.
The only reality in which Lindor stays is if he takes a hometown discount. There has been no sign of that happening and thus the stockpiling of shortstops continued.
The Clevinger trade is the latest in a tradition of trading top pitchers to help restock the team. This has worked in the past and Lindor won’t be the first star to be traded when it comes time for a mega-deal.
The hope is someone like Arias becomes the next Lindor. And if not, the team has other options at their disposal. This doesn’t help fans who love Lindor in the short-term, but it does at least show there is a plan in place.