The Cincinnati Reds have reportedly engaged the Cleveland Indians about a trade for shortstop Francisco Lindor according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
The Reds are the latest team to engage with the Indians about a potential Francisco Lindor trade, per source. It’s unclear if there’s any traction, but Reds have been aggressive on trade market before (Bauer, Puig) and have attractive trade chips (Senzel, India among them).
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 19, 2019
To quote Ray Arnold, played by Samuel L. Jackson, in Jurassic Park: Hold onto your butts.
It’s been discussed, well, just about everywhere, that the Cincinnati Reds need to add a difference maker to their lineup. They tried to do so by adding catcher Yasmani Grandal, but came up short in that pursuit. They weren’t linked to any other true difference maker on the free agent market, at least from a position player perspective. Bringing in Mike Moustakas helped improve the offense, but that move wasn’t expected to move the needle quite as much.
A player that moves the needle? Shortstop Francisco Lindor. And he moves the needle a lot. He’s been an All-Star in each of the last four season with Cleveland. He’s a career .288/.347/.493 hitter, with his power being better than that in each of the last three seasons thanks to 40+ doubles and 32+ home runs in each year. Lindor is the whole package – he hits for average, he gets on base, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays defense, and he plays defense at a very important position. And for Cincinnati, that position is also one that could use an upgrade.
Francisco Lindor has two years of team control remaining. According to MLB Trade Rumors he’s expected to get $16.7M this season in arbitration. Next season he’s likely to get even more. From a salary perspective, he’s not cheap. That’s not to say he’s not worth every penny he’s paid – he absolutely is, and then some. But it’s going to cost an acquiring team a decent amount of money to pay him the next two seasons.
What it’s also going to cost an acquiring team, if he’s even traded away from Cleveland, is talent. The Indians aren’t going to just move his salary, they are going to want back a boatload of talent. As a team that seems to be going for it in 2020, it would be surprising if the Cincinnati Reds traded something from their projected 26-man roster. That is, at least among the every day players or the rotation.
That likely leaves them looking at the farm system as pieces they would like to send to Cleveland. And that’s where things get tough. The Reds farm system isn’t what it used to be – it’s a bit down right now, but only to a point. At the very top, their farm system is actually pretty strong. They don’t have a guy who is a Top 25 overall prospect in the game. But they might have five or six Top 100 caliber prospects between Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Tyler Stephenson, Jose Garcia, Tony Santillan, and Jonathan India.
If the Reds could pull off a deal where two of those prospects, and maybe a big leaguer (a reliever, maybe Freddy Galvis going back to help Cleveland’s middle infield, perhaps a corner outfielder) would get the deal done could leave Cincinnati’s farm system in rough shape. But it would also put their big league club in a spot where they look mighty good for the next two seasons, too.
Perhaps that’s still not enough to get a deal done. It’s tough to know exactly what it would take. What seems fairly easy to figure out though is that it’s going to require a lot. A whole heck of a lot. Francisco Lindor is one of the very best baseball players on the planet Earth. And he’s got two full seasons before he reaches free agency. It’s going to be interesting to see if he does get moved after Cleveland already traded away Corey Kluber to help their owner save some money on payroll for 2020. Turning around and then also moving a superstar in Lindor would be one heck of a signal to Indian fans.
Who knows if this actually means much of anything, but Jon Heyman just tweeted this out and it seemed like it was worth adding to the story.
Regarding Lindor, Indians are said to like Nick Senzel very much. Haven’t actually heard of a lot of talk between the teams yet but doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Interesting note from @Feinsand
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 19, 2019