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Is Francisco Lindor tradeable?

Recently, Joel Sherman of the NY Post advocated strongly for the Yankees to trade for [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8706"], in the wake of the Yanks’ defeat to the Astros. Granted, Sherman is a NY beat writer, so there’s some classic Yankee homerism in his take that that the Yanks could actually acquire him.

What’s missing in his proposal is a dose of reality from the Indians’ perspective. First, as BTV regular and Indians fan hockeyjohn often points out when commenting on trades involving the Indians, Cleveland is still a competitive team, looking to win the AL Central in 2020. And although Lindor has only two years of control remaining, and is getting expensive, his presence on the roster is still a key to that goal for at least one more year. For that reason alone, he may not be available.

Another issue is that the Indians may not want to trade with the Yankees, because they’d be helping a potential competitor.

Finally, and most importantly, when looking at a potential return, Sherman makes no consideration whatsoever of the Indians’ needs. He throws out names like [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="7576"] and prospects like [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="14264"] and [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8229"], all of whom are attractive talents, yes, but none would fill the big hole in the lineup and at short left by Lindor in the immediate future.

In any potential Lindor trade, my guess is that Cleveland would want a similar, younger replacement for him at SS, along with some other pieces. They already have a hole at 2B with the buyout of Jason Kipnis, which makes the need to fill the middle infield with impact talent a pressing issue. None of those three names from the Yankees fit that need.

Here at BTV, we have Lindor’s median trade value estimate at 63.4. Let’s break that down into components:

  • Adjusted field value: 86.5
  • Estimated salary: 41.7
  • Surplus: 44.8
  • Estimated value of draft pick assuming he declines a QO: 9.0
  • Subtotal Net: 53.8
  • Premium added due to low availability, competitive situation and marketability: 9.6
  • Total Net: 63.4

The key here, I think, is the adjusted field value of 86.5. That means if Cleveland were to trade Lindor, given their competitive goals, they’d want to replace him with a major leaguer or two who can match or come close to that number, in the next two years and beyond, and particularly in the middle infield.

Who would that be? Let’s look at some options.

Reasonable, but unlikely


Atlanta could decide that they’d like to upgrade at SS by trading for Lindor, and they have enough young player capital to make it interesting. But again, Cleveland would want an immediate-impact middle infielder, and Atlanta does not have one to offer. They would likely put [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="9525"] in the deal, but that probably wouldn’t excite Cleveland. Swanson comes with one extra year of control, is estimated to be much cheaper ($16.5M salary over those three years), and definitely showed improvement this past season, but he’s no Lindor on the field – we estimate his AFV at 47.6, which is barely over half of the on-field production the Indians would get from Lindor.


Any other contenders need a SS upgrade? The only other obvious one is Milwaukee, who is looking at a non-tender of Orlando Arcia. But they’re also likely to lose Mike Moustakas at 3B, creating a hole there, so they’ve got two infield spots to fill. And the only obvious trade chip that would make sense for the Indians is [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8486"], whose value is a close fit to Lindor’s. But for the Brewers, that would be like cutting off their nose to spite their face – trade a franchise 2B with six years of cheap control (which is meaningful for a small market team like Milwaukee) for a SS upgrade with two expensive years of control? Hard to see that happening.

Phillies, Cubs…

What about the Phillies? Or Cubs? Now we’re reaching. The Phillies would offer either [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="9386"](whose value is actually negative) or [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8630"], but neither would likely appeal to Cleveland, even if they also included a top prospect or two, for the same reasons as above. The Cubs would need to trade [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="7617"] for Lindor, but that seems completely unnecessary.

Even more unlikely


One intriguing trade partner is the Mets. They could offer either [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8867"] or [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="9320"], both of whom come with multiple years of cheap control. McNeil is the more established of the two; Rosario would fill the SS role more ably but, despite his improvement in 2019, would be more of a gamble for the Indians.

Unfortunately, the Mets don’t have much else to offer. Leading with Rosario would require adding other pieces of interest, but because their top two prospects are shortstops, it would be redundant, and pieces like Brett Baty or Matt Allan are much too far away. And with McNeil, it would be close to a 1-1 swap, which also seems unlikely.


Another, perhaps longer shot, is the Reds. Cincinnati is planning to contend in 2020 (hence the Trevor Bauer trade), and if they’re going to do that, they’ll need a good SS. Trouble is, they’ve already traded with Cleveland once recently and the Indians didn’t want Taylor Trammell (flipping him to the Padres for more major-league ready players), so we might presume that Cleveland would not be interested in anything left in the Reds’ prospect coffers.

Which leads us to [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="9391"], who would be a mild overpay. He comes with six years of cheap control, an estimated field value of 92.3 over that period, and can play up the middle (the Indians could immediately fill their 2B hole with him). But here again, as with Hiura, the Reds may be borrowing from Peter to pay Paul here. There’s not much net gain, or point to it, unless they place a higher value on Lindor’s marketability to get fans back in the seats (which they might).


The longest shot of all? The Oakland A’s. Sure, they have breakout SS Marcus Semien. But they also have a hole at 2B, and perhaps Semien could move over for a year. The A’s are moving into win-now mode, so a Lindor acquisition could be just the thing that gets them over the wild card hump and into serious competition with the Astros. What would it take?

The A’s would have to offer [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8677"] to bolster the Indians’ OF. Granted, he’s not a SS replacement, but he comes with five years of control, his value is a match, and his adjusted field value is 104.5, which is more than Lindor’s total. The A’s could also throw in [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8825"] to play SS for Cleveland, as he’s MLB-ready, and perhaps ask for another piece in return, like [baseball-trade-values-player-link player="8432"]. Lindor would also help balance the A’s’ righty-heavy lineup. But again, in doing so, the A’s would lose a cornerstone outfielder, and pay Lindor’s premium salary to boot, which is why it’s so unlikely.

Bottom line

Arguably, the fact that there’s no obvious match for Lindor may also be a problem for Cleveland, because if they decide to trade Lindor in a year or so, they’ll be in a weaker negotiating position and would have to take what’s on offer regardless of positional fit.

But right now? We don’t see a realistic scenario for a Lindor trade.



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Good read.


Great article Thank you

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Great article John! I appreciate that you understand my comments from the Indian perspective when writing this article that the Indians are still looking to contend. It is a very hard balancing act between 2020 and the future for the Indians front office. They found that balance in the Trevor Bauer trade gaining 5 years of Reyes and three prospects as well as the rental Puig. If they can find the proper balance again, I can see Lindor being traded. The only teams that you mentioned above that might be able to strike that balance is Oakland with Laureano and Cincy with Senzel. I really find the Oakland one the most interesting because I am a fan of Laureano. I try to not be negative with my comments, but many do not see their proposals from both teams' perspective. Again great article John!

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Thanks! When I read the Joel Sherman piece this morning, I could only imagine your reaction. I appreciate the restraint you sometimes you show in your comments, while being consistent with your points.


Good stuff as usual, John. My comment is that the A's would only offer Laureano in such a deal if they doubt his ability to stick in CF. Is Mercado good enough in CF for the Indians to just stick Laureano in RF full time? Also, if your model can predict Lindor's field value over the next N years, can it estimate how much Lindor could fetch as a free agent?

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We might eventually get into the FA prediction business, but we're purposely not going there yet.


It's crazy that this had to be pointed out to people. The volume of Lindor trades on tha boards is nuts. I realize that everyone wants him on their team, but let's be realistic. This is why I think the Tribe needs to make a real play at upgrading via trades. I'm guessing this is Lindor's last season.