Cleveland made mistake with Lindor
Under normal circumstances, the prospect of trading for Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor would have multiple clubs lining up and offering a bevy of top prospects, but by waiting for this offseason, the Indians may have missed out on their best opportunity to get the best return.
The 27-year-old Gold Glover has a .285 career batting average and has hit 30+ HR’s three times, but is coming his worst offensive season (.258, 8 HR’s, 27 RBI’s) and is one year away from free agency.
There have been rumors that the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, and other clubs are interested in Lindor at a $19.5 million salary for 2021, but like the scenario with Boston and Mookie Betts last winter, the Indians are not willing to pay Lindor market value (over $30 million per season) on a new contract.
The potential risk of adding a player with one year left on his contract and a flooded shortstop free agent market (Lindor, Javier Baez(CHC), Carlos Correa(HOU), Trevor Story(COL) and World Series MVP Corey Seager(LAD)) after next season mitigates what teams will be willing to offer up in a trade.
Teams may only be willing to trade a lesser package (as the Dodgers did for Betts) without any guarantee of getting Lindor locked up long-term. Otherwise, interested clubs may simply wait until the trade deadline to acquire the shortstop for a much lower price as a rental (as LA did with Manny Machado in 2018) or to sign him without giving up anything next winter.
Blue Jays willing to spend, looking to build
The New York Mets seem to be connected to almost every big-name free agent this offseason because of the change in ownership to billionaire Steve Cohen. The Junior Circuit equivalent is not the crosstown rival Yankees but the Toronto Blue Jays, who surprisingly made the postseason in the expanded playoff format last season.
Toronto has multi-billion media conglomerate Rogers Communications as their owners, a young core group of hitters in Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette making less than $1 million, and a team salary ranked 19th in MLB at just under $71 million.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins dipped into free agency last offseason by signing veteran starter Hyun Jin Ryu to a four-year, $80 million contract, but is expected to do so again to upgrade his patchwork rotation.
Rumors have Toronto connected to NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, closer Brad Hand and two-time former Jay J.A. Happ, as well as catcher J.T. Realmuto, infielder D.J. Lemahieu, third baseman Justin Turner, and outfielder George Springer, but as with the Mets, that may be simply a product of players trying to generate some heat in a very cold free-agent market.
Another factor in the long-term financial outlook for the Blue Jays is a report in the Globe and Mail on Friday that the club’s ownership plans to knock down the 31-year-old Rogers Centre and build a new stadium and condominiums on the current location in downtown Toronto.