The Reds Have What it Takes for a Francisco Lindor Trade
The Cincinnati Reds have the prospect talent that the Cleveland Indians would need to facilitate a Francisco Lindor trade. It is not a perfect fit, but it is sensible, which is what the Indians need to stir up the market.
Cincinnati’s willingness to be aggressive on the trade market in recent years, making Mark Feinsand of MLB.com’s report that the Reds have emerged as a trade partner for the Indians somewhat believable.
Likely, the rumor is a shot across the bow of the Los Angeles Dodgers saying, “Oh, you won’t give us Gavin Lux? Look at this!” Cincinnati already dealt top prospect Taylor Trammell to San Diego in the Trevor Bauer trade, but they still have a deep arsenal of controllable talent in CF/2B Nick Senzel and 3B Jonathan India, among others.
Any deal for Lindor would likely have to include both Senzel and India and could be bolstered with bullpen help like lefty Amir Garrett.
Such a deal would easily satisfy the Indians from a talent standpoint, though it would leave a superstar-sized hole at the most important position on the field.
India played 26 innings at short as recently as 2018 but has been moved off the position completely, while Senzel has spent only 8 innings there in the minors.
The Reds owe $5.5 million to shortstop Freddy Galvis in 2020, but as a generally below-average defender at the position at age 30, he does not make sense as more than a band-aid.
Unless José Ramírez made the move back to short, the contingency plan would be Yu Chang, Ernie Clement or Tyler Freeman. Chang is not a major league shortstop, Clement has not proven to be an ML-caliber hitter, and Freeman, 20, is not ready to make the jump.
Likely, there is no way to immediately and perfectly replace Lindor, and any deal that moves him would come with some negative.
A Reds deal for Senzel, India, and Garrett falls into the category of “as good as it will probably get at this point in the game” for Lindor, much like a deal to LA for Lux.
The narrative surrounding a Lindor trade has largely been that the Indians should deal him now, in order to secure the best deal for him. The logic is sound, but it is not an argument made in 100-percent good faith.
The return value for Lindor will never be higher than this off-season, and that is true of any star with a contract that is winding down.
That is why the Indians must, and have been, making calls on all of their players to assess trade value, as they always do. What has not been accounted for is the value provided by Lindor simply being around.
Unless the future value matches or exceeds the value of Lindor’s next two seasons in Cleveland, there is no rush to trade him.
Despite missing the playoffs in 2019, they are very much a contender.
The team is in better shape contending for two seasons with the league’s premier shortstop and recovering in 2022 than they would be by trading him for a subpar package for the sake of doing so.
Should the Reds or Dodgers pony up with a package that actually implores the Indians to deal the face of baseball, they should do so. Otherwise, the scenario is no different than if Lindor is under the lifetime contract he deserves.