One JFtC writer is not buying into the hype of the Toronto Blue Jays trading for Francisco Lindor
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Cleveland has made it known that they intend to trade their star shortstop Francisco Lindor this off season. They are as cash strapped as any MLB organization (and possibly more than most) after the 2020 COVID 19 season. Lindor is projected to earn around $20 million in 2021, a price tag they just can’t afford.
One rumour that won’t seem to go away is the possibility of the Blue Jays trading for Francisco Lindor this off season. Judging by many of the people I follow on Twitter, there are lots of Jays fans who would be thrilled to see Lindor in a Jays uniform.
But is this a move they should really make?
First off, I’m very aware of how good a player Lindor has been overall in his career so far. The 27 year old boasts an impressive resume in MLB. Second in AL rookie of the year voting in 2015. Four straight all star appearances from 2016-2019. Two silver slugger awards, two gold glove awards, votes for league MVP in all four seasons.
There is no question as to what he has accomplished in the game.
Here are some of my reasons why I’m very hesitant on bringing Lindor to the Toronto Blue Jays
Lindor is eligible for free agency in one more season. As one of the game’s established star players, Cleveland won’t part with Lindor without getting a significant return for him in terms of players/prospects. I’m all for paying, even overpaying for rental players, if a team looks to be one last piece away from winning it all. You go back and look at the last several teams to win the World Series and many of them did just this.
As much as I’d love to believe the Jays are in this situation, I don’t think this is realistic. Not yet. I’m thrilled that they made the huge step forward that they did in 2020, but there are a few steps between where they are and where I believe they will ultimately be in a few years.
The Cost (players)
Any time you are trading for an established star player, you have to give up something of value to get him. On the other hand if the Jays’ ultimate goal is to win, it is counterproductive to include players who just might be key to their future success.
One name I keep hearing going the other way in trade speculation is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. I absolutely don’t want the Jays to trade him away! Gurriel has found a home in left field. His .882 OPS in 2020 was third among qualifying MLB LFs behind Juan Soto (1.185) and Eloy Jimenez (.890). Gurriel also finished in the top three in AL gold glove voting for left fielders in 2020. He made various highlight reel plays in his first full season in LF and while advanced defensive metrics show that there is room for improvement still, I’m excited to see that improvement happen with experience.
Not to mention that the Blue Jays system isn’t exactly stacked with MLB ready outfielders projected to be star players, and he is one player I’m holding on to.
Now if Cleveland would accept Randal Grichuk and enough cash to cover a majority of his contract as part of a package instead, then maybe I’d feel differently.
The Cost (money)
Let’s say the Blue Jays, at one point or another, try to sign Lindor to a long term contract, whether that be an extension as part of the trade, or after the fact.
Whoever he signs his next contract with, he will not come cheaply. Needless to say, I don’t speak for Lindor. However the speculation I’ve read is that any long term deal for him would need to start with a 3.
As in $300 million + for however many years.
I’m sorry but no. I don’t care if Willie Mays in his prime is available, I’m not paying that much money for one player no matter how good he may be, especially not with the luxury tax system that is in place, and not knowing what the new labour agreement will look like after 2021, whenever they get one.
As a Jays fan, my ultimate goal is to see them win a World Series and in baseball you don’t do that with just one star. You need a team making contributions up and down the roster and paying that much for one guy can limit your ability to pay for other players needed to win. Phillies fans were delighted that their team signed Bryce Harper for 13 years at $330 million, and Angels fans just as happy to extend Mike Trout for 12 years at $426.5 million. How many championships have those teams won since those signings? None. How many will they win before those contracts expire? That remains to be seen.
Also I believe there is a law of diminishing returns when you are talking about that kind of money. Let’s say Lindor gets $300 million over 10 years, so an average of $30 million per season. Is he the best SS in MLB? He was certainly among the best from 2016-2019. How much money does the 2nd best SS make and is Lindor that much better than number 2 to justify the gap in pay between them?
A Down Season
Up until now we have only talked about pre 2020 Lindor. The truth is that he had a down season in 2020, by Lindor standards at least. His slash line was .258/.335/.415. Not only that but he didn’t finish in the top 3 in AL gold glove voting for shortstops.
It’s very hard to say how much any player’s performance in 2020 is indicative of their future. 60 games under unprecedented circumstances. It’s very possible that Lindor could rebound in 2021 and become “pre-2020 Lindor” again, but at the very least I don’t think anyone should look at it as a slam dunk.
In hindsight, maybe Cleveland should have traded Lindor a year ago. Two years of team control with an all star player the previous four seasons could have, should have, gotten them a much larger return.
Let’s not forget that the Blue Jays already have a budding superstar in SS Bo Bichette. Some of you might think I’m crazy (but by this point some of you probably already do) but I see the potential in Bichette to be better than Lindor.
Bichette’s OPS numbers in his two seasons in MLB so far: .930 in 2019 and .840 in 2020.
Lindor’s OPS numbers in his first two seasons in MLB: .835 and .794.
Defensively, in 2019, Bichette had 4 DRS in only 361.2 innings played. Lindor had 11 DRS in 1196.1 innings. Bichette’s DRS per inning played was slightly higher than Lindor’s.
2020 was another story. Bichette had -1 DRS in 217 innings at SS, so roughly 24 games. I don’t by any means see this as his future. The 22 year old is as talented as he is motivated to be the best player he can possibly be. I say leave him at SS and watch him blossom.
No doubt many of you will disagree with me and that’s fine. I agree to disagree with people all the time. Would I love to see Francisco Lindor wearing a Blue Jays uniform? Absolutely. Would it be worth everything they would need to give up to make it happen? It is the opinion of this Jays fan that it would not.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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