Major League Baseball rosters remain frozen at the moment, but once teams can start tinkering with their roster again it will be interesting to see if the Indians go back to listening to potential offers for shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The team has been steadfast for the past few months about keeping Lindor for the 2020 season, but one baseball insider seems to feel that there is still a chance that the Tribe could send Lindor packing sooner than later.
Buster Onley of ESPN made some comments about the Lindor situation Wednesday on an ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast, throwing it out there that a team like Tampa may be in the mix for a player like Lindor.
“One team to watch that I think would be very well suited is the Tampa Bay Rays,” Olney said.
“They’ve got a deep bullpen. They have a deep roster. We don’t typically think of them as being a World Series contender, but in a shortened season I think it levels the playing field somewhat for them against a team like the Yankees.”
The Rays in 2019 were very good, winning 96 games and earning a wild card spot in the American League.
With the Yankees going out and nabbing pitcher Gerrit Cole via free agency, the Rays may need to make a move to try and stay in contention with New York, who always seem to have an endless pool of money to spend every season.
Tampa already has a young shortstop who had a good season in 2019 in Willy Adams, who is just 24 years old and entering his third season in the Majors.
Last year Adams hit 20 homers with an average of .254 in 152 games. While Lindor would be an upgrade at the shortstop spot for the Rays, the shortstop position is not the biggest need on the team’s roster.
The biggest question will be when would the Indians get the most back for a player like Lindor?
Is it better to keep him in 2020 (provided games are played at some point), hope that he has a very good season and that his value remains high?
Or should the team start listening to offers right away when the rosters are unfrozen and if there’s one that blows them away, pull the trigger and make the deal?
“We knew that going through the wintertime, the Indians listened to offers,” Olney stated.
“They decided to keep him going into the 2020 season. Now, obviously, that context has changed.
“Teams I've spoken with believe that whenever the rosters are no longer frozen. the Indians, even before the games begin, will begin to explore the question of when's the right time to trade Lindor.”
The eventual trade of Lindor is going to have to include some very high level prospects that can help the Indians within a year or two to keep the team competitive.
Oddly enough according to Baseball America, the top prospect in the Rays organization is Wander Franco, a 19-year-old shortstop who is likely more like three years away from making an impact at the Major League level.
Lefty pitcher Brendan McKay is second on the list, he’s a lot closer to being the Majors full-time, pitching with the Major League Rays last season making a start and appearing in two games.
The Rays traded their third ranked prospect on the list, being lefty thrower, Matthew Liberatore, so fourth on the list is second basemen Vidal Brujan.
Brujan is 21 years old, and has appeared thus far mostly in A and Double-A ball for the Rays.
There is no question that dealing Lindor is in the future for the Indians, but making the determination as to when the right time and to who will remain the biggest question marks for the team moving forward.