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These Francisco Lindor rumors aren’t going away

It truly is silly season

Cleveland Indians v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

This truly is some of the worst times in baseball. There isn’t much going on once all the awards have been given out and outside of some knucklehead testing positive for PEDs, the news is somewhat dried up until after the Thanksgiving holiday. So what is the best way to get some clicks? Why, make up trade rumors of course!

That’s why we started seeing pieces about Gary Sanchez last week, now it’s why we’re seeing Francisco Lindor’s name pop up more and more. People gotta write, folks and if it’s out there, we have to talk about it right?

It started last week when a tweet ignited the fires.

Then there was a random article that dreamed up potential Lindor trades to seven teams.

Phillies get: SS Francisco Lindor and C Roberto Pérez

Indians get: C Rafael Marchan (Phillies’ No. 7 prospect), RHP Francisco Morales (Phillies’ No. 4 prospect), OF Jhailyn Ortiz (Phillies’ No. 19 prospect), SS Bryson Stott (MLB’s No. 82 prospect)

It continued yesterday when the league mouthpiece gave four potential landing spots for Lindor, the Phillies included. Here is what was stated about the Phillies:

The Phillies have been mentioned in the early offseason rumors a few times; however, the big question is whether Philadelphia would have enough impact players to send back to Cleveland in return for Lindor. There aren’t many big league options that would make sense for the Indians, and an all-Minor Leaguer return for someone like Lindor may not be enough to get Cleveland to bite. Maybe the two can work out the missing piece before Opening Day.

This is all true. Of the four teams mentioned, the Phillies have the least amount of major league ready players that Cleveland probably requires in a return package. Corey Seidman wrote the other day about how the team really just can’t trade for Lindor for the simple reason: they don’t have enough.

If you’re unlikely to extend Lindor beyond 2021, there is no valid reason to trade for him unless you think you can win a World Series in 2021, as the Dodgers did prior to this season with Mookie Betts. They eventually reached an extension with Betts and also won that World Series.

It’s not that Lindor isn’t talented. We are all well aware of how good Lindor is, even if his 2020 was a little down by his usually high standards. But really - how likely is it that the team is going to trade away players for him? It seems highly unlikely.

And yet...

Usually these rumors are easy to debunk. Someone sends out a message that claims so and so team is among those interested in acquiring said player, followed by a slew of articles theorizing trades that could entice the team to give him up, and so on and so on. It’s a snowball that turns into an avalanche of content that usually in the end turns into nothing. Our own John Stolnis reported on one of his recent podcasts how unlikely it was that the Phillies would move to acquire Lindor for all the reasons everyone else is stating. The team just doesn’t want to pay his salary while also giving up cheap talent that they’ll need to fill holes. But when there is this much written and debated about one topic, there has to be some truth to these rumors, right? It’s probably just the agent of the player sending out names of teams he’d like to get involved in the trade dance, but still. Perhaps there is a little fire started somewhere.

If we strip out all of the other outside influences, the trade proposed above would be a no-brainer. Sending out a catcher with little to no power, a shortstop that might not even be a shortstop, an outfielder that hasn’t lived up to his pre-signing hype and a pitching prospect that might be a relief arm for one of the premier players in the game PLUS the services of a catcher that could help fill the gap left by Realmuto? You say “yes” to that deal every day of the week and don’t think twice. You can figure out where to play Jean Segura and Scott Kingery later.

Throwing those outside influences back in, it just throws a big ol’ wet blanket on the whole idea. There is already expected to be a drop in payroll this coming season, which could lead to the team losing their free agent catcher to the open market because they don’t want to pay him what he’s worth. So why would they all of a sudden trade assets for a guy that is expected to make north of $20 million in arbitration? Both catcher and shortstop are premier defensive positions in the game and plugging a superstar into either of them is always a wise decision. So far, the Phillies have shown a reluctance to get that superstar at one of the positions; why would they get one for the other?

Perhaps the team would expect, and hopefully this time demand, an extension be agreed on before pulling the trigger. If the team did that and pivoted from Realmuto to Lindor as the one they wanted to invest in, then again - you say “yes” to that deal right away. Maybe Lindor wants to agree to an extension now before the CBA leads to an upheaval in the game’s finances. Maybe he sees that next year’s free agent market will include several elite options at the exact position he plays, depressing that market just ever so slightly to the point he doesn’t get what he envisions getting. Who knows, but there are just too many variables at play here for the team to jump right into a deal like this.

Again, if Lindor were to agree to an extension with the Phillies as part of the trade, then yes, you make that deal right now. All the evidence we have now suggests that that won’t happen, therefore declaring this deal dead in the water. Let’s hope it ends these rumors soon, not getting the hopes up of the fans of this franchise that lately has been so beaten down by talk of cutting spending and not uprooting during a pandemic. The collective psyche of the people just can’t take it.