As the free agent and trade markets begin to heat up with the annual MLB Winter Meetings just around the corner, one name to keep an eye on is Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Indians president Chris Antonetti recently said he expects Lindor to be the team’s Opening Day shortstop in 2020, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams that have shown interest in him and it is believed throughout the industry that All-Star is more likely to be dealt than Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts.
The Indians are a small-market team and Lindor only has two years of club control left before he will command a massive contract in free agency, so now may be the best time to trade him to maximize his value.
In five seasons, the 25-year-old has been named an All-Star four times in addition to winning two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. In 143 games this year, he hit .284/.335/.518 with 32 home runs, 101 runs scored, 74 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
Lindor is one of the premier players in all of baseball, so it comes as no surprise that the Dodgers are showing interest in him. Los Angeles is in search of pitching as well though, and David Vassegh recently reported in an appearance on SportsNet LA that the Indians could be open to packaging Lindor and Corey Kluber together:
“Don’t rule out Lindor and Kluber being a package deal this offseason.”
The Dodgers have been linked to Kluber before, most notably last offseason — although they were not able to land the three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Kluber is coming off his worst Major League season as he was limited to just seven starts in 2019 due to fractured right arm after being hit with a comebacker at the beginning of May. The right-hander wasn’t all that effective when he was able to take the mound, going 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA, 4.06 FIP and 1.65 WHIP with 38 strikeouts and 15 walks in 35.2 innings.
Cleveland picked up their club option on Kluber for $17.5 million in 2020, and he has another option for 2021 as well so he could be under control for two more seasons.
Kluber was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball as recently as 2018. If he can return to that form, then he would certainly be a solid acquisition for the Dodgers to bolster their rotation, although that is a big if considering he is 33 years of age and coming off an injury-plagued season.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently said he hopes to ‘capitalize of something meaningful’ this offseason, whether it be in free agency or trades.
Lindor and Kluber could end up being those acquisitions if the Indians are willing to talk as the Dodgers have the prospect capital to complete a deal of that magnitude.
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