It seems that for about six weeks last offseason that the rumors were hot, frequent, and heavy that the Cincinnati Reds were attempting to trade for Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor. A year later, Lindor is still in Cleveland and they are apparently trying to move him once again according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
There are a lot of reasons that Francisco Lindor would make sense for the Cincinnati Reds. Lindor has been one of the best players in Major League Baseball over the last half-decade. The Reds also have an opening at the shortstop position, particularly in the short term. Lindor is arbitration eligible this year and he’ll be entering his final year of team control before becoming a free agent following the 2021 season. He could provide tons of value for Cincinnati in 2021, and bridge the gap, potentially, to Jose Garcia in 2022.
But there’s a reason that, at least from an ownership standpoint, he doesn’t. Money. Plenty of money. Last offseason saw the Reds go out and spend money like they had never done before. And then 2020 happened, and teams more likely than not, took some losses because of it. All indications are that teams, almost unanimously, are going to be trying to cut salary this offseason. The Reds are likely feeling that way, too. Lindor, one of the better players in the game, is projected to make somewhere between $17,500,000 and $21,500,000 in 2021 according to MLB Trade Rumors (the difference is about how arbitration is handled because of the shortened 2020 season).
To acquire Francisco Lindor, though, doesn’t just require financial approval from Bob Castellini and the minority owners who have to write the checks, but the front office also needs to come up with a trade that Cleveland would accept for their superstar shortstop. The price in talent has to have come down since last offseason. First, you get a player for just one season instead of two. But second, teams are seemingly desperate to simply not have to pay salary. Lindor makes a lot of money, even if it’s just in 2021. A team that is willing to pay him that money probably doesn’t have to pay the same value in acquisition cost as they would in a “normal” offseason.
The biggest obstacle would be to get ownership on board for writing the check. Can you envision the small market Cincinnati Reds being one of seemingly a small number of teams to go out and try to add payroll in the offseason? It’s a tough sell. But it was also a tough sell a year ago today to say that the Reds would go out and spend the kind of money that they did to bring in Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama, and Wade Miley. Things are different now given the realities of the new world we’re living in that has all kinds of uncertainty built into it. But if a team wants to win more than they want to make money (in the immediate sense – the franchise value has nearly quadrupled since Bob Castellini’s group bought it in 2006 and when it sells, that money is going to be made in a big, big way), this is the offseason to spend and go for it. The market will be down because of how most other teams will be acting. Be bold. Go get Francisco Lindor.