Cleveland Indians lose in sell-low Francisco Lindor deal
The Cleveland Indians finally reached a long awaited deal for Francisco Lindor, but the package from the New York Mets was underwhelming. While the expectation was that Lindor would start the 2021 season in a city other than Cleveland, most expected the Indians to get a much better return than what we saw come to the Tribe from the Big Apple.
Since arriving to the big leagues in Cleveland, Lindor has been one of the best shortstops in the game and in the conversation for best overall player as well. His long list of accolades include four All-Star games, two Gold Gloves, one Platinum Glove, two Silver Sluggers and one World Series appearance. Beyond the awards, he’s also maintained a career slash line of .285/.346/.488 while also accumulating a full stat line from home runs to stolen bases.
What pushed Lindor out the door was his large price tag that was coming after the 2021 season. Having only one-year guaranteed, the market was small for Lindor and that showed through this trade. If fans were looking for a Mookie Betts-type deal, they didn’t get it.
When the Boston Red Sox traded Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they included David Price just like the Indians included Carlos Carrasco. In return, Boston received Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. Verdugo had pieces of three seasons under his belt in the majors, totaling 158 games, and has been the best return so far. He had a strong 2020 season that saw him hit above .300 and finished 12th in MVP voting.
As for Downs and Wong, they remain in the minor leagues. Downs is not only the No. 1 prospect in the Boston organization, but No. 40 in all of baseball, while Wong is No. 19 on the Red Sox’s list.
Obviously, the Indians deal was far from that type of return, at least that’s the initial reaction. There will be time for the deal to play out in full and maybe in the end we’re just jumping to conclusion. However, when you look at the players the Indians received, none of them are close to Verdugo or Downs.
While Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez have MLB experience to evaluate, we barely have any sample size from Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene. To add on top of that, Wolf is only the No. 12 prospect now in Cleveland while Greene is at No. 16.
While the Cleveland Indians finally did what they were trying to do, trade Francisco Lindor, the return was far from they should have received. Now, there’s a lot of variables to consider, there’s no doubt about that. However, just the overall feel of the trade is not only that the Tribe sold low on Lindor, but they may have even been fleeced in the offer.
A comparison to the Betts deal is slightly unfair, I’ll give the Indians that. The landscape of baseball has transformed in the year since that trade was completed. No fans in 2020 hurt every team financially and the Indians were already a lower budget team in the big picture. Nevertheless, the Red Sox netted a couple top prospects as well as a player that has already entered the MVP conversation. The Cleveland Indians fell short of either of those ideas. They didn’t get a top prospect and the MLB players aren’t bad, but they aren’t MVP level.
The price tag on Francisco Lindor for the 2021 season has yet to be determined, but can be assumed to be in the range of $20 million. Throw in Carrasco, and the Cleveland Indians cut well over $30 million from their 2021 payroll. That’s what the deal felt like, a simple payroll dump. Like I said, there’s still time for the players coming to Cleveland to prove this wrong, but that’s the initial reaction.
The Cleveland Indians were already expected to cut payroll this past season, but I’m not sure that anyone expected it to happen in this way. A Francisco Lindor trade was just as expected, but the reality is the return to Cleveland was far underwhelming. Compared to similar deals in just the last year, it seems like the Indians were fleeced, even when you consider the financial implications that 2020 presented.