Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays

Indians eyeing 1 player above all else in return from Jays for Francisco Lindor

If the Blue Jays and Indians strike a deal for Francisco Lindor, Cleveland knows exactly who they want back in return.

The Indians are determined to get the best possible return for Lindor. The best way to do this is ensure he’s willing to sign long-term at whatever trade destination they deem acceptable. Per Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Lindor is open to signing a long-term deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. With that in mind, let’s dig into those trade talks.

Per Pluto, “I’ve been told the Indians would love to build a trade with Toronto with one of the players in return being Lourdes Gurriel.”

Would the Indians really rather add a proven bat than prospects?

Cleveland isn’t necessarily looking for a prospect-laden return for Lindor. The Indians just made the American League playoffs last year, and would prefer not to take a major step back by dealing Lindor. That’s easier said than done, but Gurriel is a capable replacement in the lineup.

Playing primarily left field, Gurriel had a breakout season in 2020, hitting 11 home runs and 33 RBI, paired with an average over .300. Put him in Cleveland and the Indians add a capable player to their outfield, and an All-Star caliber bat to their lineup.

Gurriel is signed long-term, and is making just $15 million over the course of his contract. Cleveland would much rather pay Gurriel in what amounts to a bargain buy than try and sign Lindor to an extension next offseason. Given Lindor is at a premium position, the Indians know they can’t afford him come 2021. Trading him now is their best chance at getting something in return for his services.

The Mets, Reds and Dodgers are other possible destinations for Lindor, but the Jays arguably make the most sense given Lindor’s willingness to commit long-term. The Indians know this, and want Gurriel in return.

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