Landing Francisco Lindor: Ranking trade fits for Cleveland’s star shortstop

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

The offseason is off to a slow start around baseball, to the surprise of pretty much no one. Uncertainty reigns atop the leaderboard of market forces at play in baseball at the moment.

One ripple in the otherwise calm waters of player movement has been the rumor that the Cleveland Indians are intent on moving star shortstop Francisco Lindor before the 2021 campaign. We’ve seen this show before, of course. Just last winter, Lindor was the star of the rumor mill but ultimately Cleveland stood pat, unsatisfied with the offers they found during their explorations.

This time seems different. After preseason extension talks between Lindor’s agent and the Indians went nowhere, Cleveland’s franchise player is a year from hitting the open market. While the Indians could play things out and push for one more postseason run — a cause that would certainly be helped more by Lindor’s presence than by his absence — it appears that Cleveland is finally ready to move on.

With all due respect to the top free agents on the market, from Trevor Bauer to J.T. Realmuto to George Springer, if Lindor were to change teams, he would be the best player to swap uniforms over the winter. That said, it’s a complicated situation: Lindor has just the one year left before he sets out to get what many have suggested could be a 10-year deal worth upwards of $300 million. Any transaction involving a player of his ilk is always a balancing act.

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