Chalk up a first season win for the Cleveland Indians in Francisco Lindor trade
With the sun beginning to set on what’s been a mostly disastrous season, we take time to reflect. For the Cleveland Indians, It has been a whirlwind of a year filled with conflict, health issues, rebranding, hitting insufficiency, and roster moves.
As dark, as things have been for Cleveland baseball over the last 8 months we’ve been lucky enough to catch flashes of light. This year, a handful of those bright spots have come from Amed Rosario who was one of four players the Cleveland Indians acquired in return for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in January.
Initially, it proved difficult to find a home for Rosario because of his defensive limitations. It was a concern specifically at the shortstop position which is why the club attempted to put him in the outfield.
Through the first half, Rosario took time to settle in. The outfield experiment was to no avail, and he finally slotted in at shortstop where he would stay for the remainder of the season. On the year Amed Rosario has notched a .288 average with a .729 OPS. That may not seem like much but as previously stated in a recent article on Indians’ prospect Will Benson, value comes in many forms so let’s take a look a little deeper.
It was evident from the start that Amed Rosario would be absolutely dynamic on the bases, he managed to muster four first-half triples to go along with his eight stolen bags and 40 runs scored. According to baseball savant, he ranks in the 98th percentile for sprint speed this season and that has been put on display every time he takes the field.
The more surprising aspects of Rosario’s game came along as the season progressed. He proved to be an incredibly effective hitter with runners in scoring position where he hit .308 with an .806 OPS.
After the All-Star break this year, Rosario has been stellar, posting a .306 average and a .786 OPS. In August alone, Amed Rosario showed his doubters the unlocked potential with an unbelievable .372 average paired with a .981 OPS. Within that month he accounted for 38 runs, or 1.3 runs per game, which is more than 28% of the team’s runs scored in August.
Francisco Lindor has shown struggles all season. Whether at the plate, with the New York media, or nagging injuries Lindor just can’t seem to catch a break. In the first half of the season, both Lindor and Rosario were shaky. Lindor posted a .225 average with a .698 OPS and Amed hit .259 with a .673 OPS. This is where the similarities cease.
Once the corner was turned to the second half, where Lindor’s struggles continued, Rosario began to thrive and the result was a scorching August (mentioned above) which was aided by a 10-game hit streak. Of course, the ultimate deciding factor in this head-to-head match-up is Amed Rosario tallied 23 more games than Francisco Lindor. We all know the old saying, the best ability is availability and Amed Rosario was simply available to help his team more often than Francisco Lindor. Time will tell which direction these two careers go but, at this point, the scales seem slightly tipped in the direction of Amed Rosario.
Included in the blockbuster trade was Carlos Carrasco, who dealt with injuries and has only made nine starts for the Mets thus far, Andres Gimenez who played most of the year in Triple-A Columbus, Josh Wolf who pitched in Low-A Lynchburg this season, and possibly the most intriguing of all, Isaiah Greene who is playing in the Arizona Complex League.
Unfortunately for Carrasco, he wasn’t able to get much going this year. He tore his hamstring coming out of spring training and missed the entire first half of the year. Since then he has only been able to pull out a 5.59 ERA over 38.2 innings pitched. Those 38.2 innings came over nine starts where Carrasco has a record of 1-2.
Gimenez showed flashes of something special while in Triple-A Columbus but hasn’t given much of anything since being called up on August 7th. At only 23-years old there is still a chance for him to develop as he gets more playing time but a .250 hitter in over 250 career at-bats seems to be the makings of a career .250 hitter.
For now, Gimenez has taken on somewhat of a utility role where he’s played an even split 19 and 19 games at shortstop and second base. He has a lot of competition coming up through the system but his defensive ability and big-league experience may give him the upper hand as the spring rolls around.
This brings us to the key minor league trade chips.
Wolf was a second-round pick by the Mets in 2019 out of St. Thomas HS in Houston TX. He started five games in rookie ball and notched an impressive 13.5 strikeouts per nine. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wolf was unable to play in 2020 which has led to a bit of a down year in Low-A Lynchburg. He has made 17 starts with a 5.35 ERA, but the bright side is that Wolf has logged 9.2 strikeouts per nine over his 65.2 innings pitched. There is definitely something there to be excited about as the Indians are known to be great with pitching development.
Isaiah Greene was drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Corona HS in California. 2021 is his first-ever professional experience and in 41 games he has shown that he could be the real deal. Hitting .288 with a .791 OPS in his first season, after taking an entire year off is great news for the franchise moving forward. Even better, as it stands right now, Isaiah Greene is second in the Arizona Complex League with a whopping .421 OBP. He could prove to be a very solid leadoff bat if he builds on what he has displayed in the ACL.
All of these factors have led me to the conclusion that up to now, the Cleveland Indians are winning the Francisco Lindor trade. Some of you may find it hard to wrap your head around but the numbers don’t lie. This may not always be the case, so chalk one up for the good guys and let’s stay vigilant as we cheer them on in season two, post-Lindor.