January 27, 2021

Blue Jays among 5 possible trade destinations for Francisco Lindor

5 min read
This year’s MLB off-season is full of uncertainty as teams attempt to navigate the hurdles...

This year’s MLB off-season is full of uncertainty as teams attempt to navigate the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this winter figures to be very unique, the familiar rumblings of trade rumours are already starting to emerge. The Cleveland Indians reportedly intend to trade star shortstop Francisco Lindor by opening day of 2021, which is a move that would send ripple effects across the league.

It’s viewed as a cost-saving decision for Cleveland, with Lindor expected to earn around $21 million in arbitration as he enters the final year of his contract.

Adding a player of Lindor’s calibre would be enticing for just about any team in baseball, but we’ve narrowed the field down to five teams that could realistically take a swing at landing the four-time all-star.

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Toronto Blue Jays

Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are very familiar with Lindor from their time in Cleveland, and a reunion makes sense for a number of reasons. The Blue Jays have financial flexibility moving forward, which would allow them to add Lindor’s lofty salary for 2021 and explore a long-term extension. Lindor turns 27 this month, so the remainder of his prime coincides with the rest of Toronto’s youthful roster.

Bo Bichette is the incumbent shortstop but adding a two-time Gold Glove winner would warrant a positional change. Bichette is reluctant to move off shortstop but has stated he would step aside should a “huge upgrade” come along. Lindor definitely qualifies as one.

As for what Cleveland could expect in return, the Blue Jays possess one of the best pipelines of young talent in the league right now. It’s unlikely Toronto would part with Nate Pearson or Austin Martin, but there are a number of other quality options the Indians could be interested in.

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Los Angeles Angels

There might not be a team in baseball with as much pressure on it as the Angels. Mike Trout is one of the game’s best players of all time, yet has only made the playoffs once since debuting in 2011.

Los Angeles signed Anthony Rendon last winter and bringing in Lindor would give it arguably the most fearsome three-headed monster in MLB. Pitching has always been a question mark for these Angels, but another offensive superstar could help cover up those deficiencies.

With Andrelton Simmons a free agent, the Angels do have a hole at shortstop, but they also have a glaring one at GM right now after firing Billy Eppler.

Philadelphia Phillies

Like the Angels, the Phillies are another franchise that is feeling the heat after failing to make the playoffs since 2011. They haven’t lived up to expectations since signing Bryce Harper and a bat like Lindor could help them get over the hump.

Didi Gregorius manned shortstop for Philadelphia last season but he’s a free agent. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is also on the market and figures to command a hefty contract, so the Phillies may have to choose between him and Lindor. Having both would be a luxury, but perhaps not a realistic one in these uncertain financial times league-wide.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

New York Yankees

The Yankees are a team that will come up whenever a high-profile, high-earning star emerges in rumours. They have the financial capabilities to add when they see fit, even with Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton combining to make more than $60 million per year through 2027.

Adding Lindor would allow the Yankees to move Gleyber Torres to second base, where his glove would play better. The acquisition would likely mean they wouldn’t bring back free agent DJ LeMahieu, who they are very high on. Lindor’s switch-hitting ability would also help bring balance to a lineup that is heavy on righties.

New York Mets

New owner Steve Cohen could look to make a big splash and what would be bigger than trading for one of the marquee players in the sport? Cohen’s cash boost could put the Mets in an advantageous position as other clubs look to curb spending.

The Mets don’t have a glaring need at shortstop, but Lindor would be a major upgrade over Amed Rosario. They have some, controllable big-league pieces that might be of interest to Cleveland in a package, including Rosario, outfielder Brandon Nimmo and the versatile J.D. Davis.

New York has mostly floundered since its run to the World Series in 2015 and has now missed the playoffs in four straight years. Lindor is the type of talent who can help turn around those fortunes.

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