Why trading Francisco Lindor would be a bad idea
It has been well documented that over the years the Cleveland Indians have a propensity of drafting more “polished” college players in the first round of the draft, but in 2011 they decided to roll the dice with the number eight overall pick on a prep star out of Florida, shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Tribe passed over former college players and now major leaguers such as Astros outfielder George Springer, Angels first baseman C.J. Cron, Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray and Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong as well as another prep star in Marlins ace Jose Fernandez to draft the slick-fielding Lindor.
Now we have all heard the adage that you‘ve got to give something to get something; the bigger the prize, or in this case player, the bigger the return.
As we have seen on this very site, names like Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre and heck, evenTodd Frazier, have been bandied about. And surprisingly, the name that seems to be rolling off of the tongue of many for the Indians to trade for them is Lindor. While Lindor would be a big prize for a team to acquire, is that the smartest and best move for the Indians to make?
As I started thinking about the possibility of trading Lindor, highlights of shortstops over the years like Davey Concepcion, Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter and of course, an all-time Indians favorite Omar Vizquel started replaying in my mind. Now, I am not already trying to anoint Lindor in any of these guys’ class, but it got me to thinking how were these players defensively at the same age or nearly the same age as Lindor? Also, how did these guys progress over the years?
|Players||Minors Field %||Majors Field %|
While fielding percentage does not determine range, arm strength, fielding conditions, official scorer’s calls, etc, it does give a base line of where a player is currently trending. As you can see, each player who has come before Lindor has improved their fielding percentage dramatically over the years. If the same holds true for Lindor, Indians fans should be excited to see what he can do in the future.
Living here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I get the opportunity to check out the advanced Single-A team of the Indians when they roll into town. I had already seen Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, and while they were terrific, I was excited to see Lindor play to see if he could live up to the hype. Not only did he live up to the hype, he exceeded it for me.
From my seat right behind the Carolina Mudcats dugout, I got a bird’s eye view of the slick-fielding Lindor. He put on quite a show defensively, first cutting down a runner down at home who was trying to score from first base on a gapper, Lindor threw a chest high laser to the catcher from short left center field. He also ranged to his right to backhand a ball between short and third to easily throw out the runner as well as getting a remarkable jump on a grounder that was headed up the middle until Lindor speared it and threw out the runner.
All of those plays made me marvel in amazement but he had one more trick up his sleeve. There was Lindor playing a deep short when the pitch was about to be made. A slow roller was hit in his direction and he immediately charged hard for the ball, as he got to the ball, he barehanded it and threw a perfect seed over to first to get the speedy Rougned Odor by a step.
At the dish, he went 1-for-3 on the night with that one hit being an opposite field shot to left. He also drew a walk in which he fouled off numerous pitches. As impressed as I was with his offense and defense, I was most impressed with his poise. He humbly went about his job, he cheered for his teammates and this teen at the age of 19 seemed to have the savvy of a 30-year old veteran.
That was my take on one game I saw, and while it doesn’t carry much weight, there are some scouting reports from actual scouts that could sway you.
ScoutingBook.com put together a Prospect Matrix of the top 75 players in the Minor Leagues for 2014 (note: none of the 2014 class were included in these rankings.) There were six organizations who participated in the matrix: ScoutingBook.com, Scout.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law of ESPN and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. In these rankings, Lindor ranked as high as #5 by Scout.com and as low as #13 by Baseball America; the average spot where he was ranked was #8.
Scouting Book had this scouting report on him, as done during the summer of 2014:
Franky Lindor is a young and talented all-around player who shows signs of all five major league tools, though they don’t always show up every day. His glove is pretty shiny, and his base running smarts and instincts are already several years ahead of his age bracket. We’ll find out if his bat can live up to early reports and carry his future into MLB. Right now, the signs are very good.
In another scouting report, according to PerfectGame.org and prior to the 2011 amateur draft here is what another scout said of Lindor:
His first-step quickness and exceptional balance give him above-average range at shortstop. His lightning-quick release and advanced footwork enable him to make all of the plays. Lindor has quick, strong hands, has above-average bat speed from both sides of the plate and legitimate extra-base power.
While Lindor has moved quickly through the system and is virtually knocking on the door of the Tribe, it seems an almost foregone conclusion that another young prospect in Jose Ramirez will be the Indians opening day shortstop on April 6, 2015.
Ramirez did an admirable job for the Indians once he took over for the traded Asdrubal Cabrera. Ramirez showed good range and only made four errors in 56 games. He had some good moments at the plate and even tied for the American League lead with 13 sacrifice bunts. Ramirez also has plus speed which should create more run-scoring opportunities for a stagnant offense.
Erik Gonzalez put together a fine season of his own in 2014. He started in Single-A Carolina and finished in Double-A Akron. He batted a combined .309 with a .352 OBP with 36 extra base hits, and with continued progress he will put himself in position for promotion consideration for the 2015 Tribe.
Lindor had somewhat of a down year offensively, as he only batted .276 with a .338 OBP for Akron and Columbus – though it is important to remember he was also only 20 years old. He did, however, increase his home run production from 2 in 2013 to 11 in 2014. He, too, struck out too much as he whiffed 97 times in 507 at bats. It is that sudden lack of plate discipline that speculation is circulating that he will return to Columbus to begin next year.
Position battles, trades, and controversies have been going on for as long as I have been a fan…and longer. So let’s just look at a few.
Ozzie Smith or Garry Templeton? The Padres chose Templeton, which was a bad choice.
Felix Fermin or Omar Vizquel? The Indians traded for Vizquel, which was a great choice.
Jimmy Rollins or Nick Punto? The Phillies chose Rollins, and again, another great choice.
So now it begs the question, whether it is in 2015 or possibly 2016, but who do the Indians choose, Ramirez or Lindor?
Let’s hope that the Indians make the right choice, not just for the present but the future as well. Special players like Lindor do not come around too often and while the temptation may be there to add a Josh Donaldson or Todd Frazier, it should not be at the expense of losing Francisco Lindor.
Agree with everything you said homie. Maybe we can trade Kipnis for Jose Altuve???
This is a cornerstone player. The only chance for a small market team like Cleveland to consistently compete is to have 2-3 guys like Lindor. I'd rather see the Indians sign him to a 10 year Longoria-type deal this offseason than trade him.
The issue for the Indians is going to be starting the arbitration clock on Lindor right away. It is a financial decision I understand but that goes away in late May. Surely we can get through 6 weeks with Aviles and some 35 year old washup until Lindor's time arrives?
Just my opinion
Remember signing old players who had injuries due from years of playing and you never get your money's worth like last year Swisher and Murphy. Now make Swisher hitting coach for the next two years of his contract so you get a little return from that 56 millions spend.
Improve the infield defense
Balance the line up
Their salary structure needs to reflect actual value( Swisher and Bourne account for over 25% of the annual team salary)
An infield of Urshela, Lindor, Ramirez, and Santana take care of two of the three major problems.
As much as I have clamored for the Indians need to trade for Donaldson Id prefer to trade Salazar or (even) Trevor Bauer (as much as I him) before Lindor. I'm not convinced Salazar can / will stay a SP long term.
I also don't buy this "window is now" stuff. I don't think the window is as open as some people think it is. The pitching staff has the potential, but there's still quite a bit of development that needs to happen with almost everyone not named Kluber. I think that the following year is really the window, but of course anything is possible! Just saying that you don't mortgage the future by making dumb, short-term focused moves.
The Tribe should be trying to build a system in which the window is always now, and to do that you don't give away your most talented, high upside, potential superstar in the making players.
You do deal from your depth though, so having Ramirez and Gonzalez is great. If there's a good deal for one of those guys this off-season, fine, pull the trigger, but if not, that's ok too, they hopefully will continue to develop and be even more valuable at mid-season or next winter.
While I love Donaldson because he is one of the very best 3B in the game, I'm not ready to sacrifice what he is worth. If we did aquire him, Urshela would certainly have to be included in that or another trade, and I'm admittedly too curious to see what he will become. I would rather trade Lindor in a deal for Joc Pederson, or if we dealt him to the A's, I would rather get M Olsen and D Overton in return. I still say that the Indians and Giants could both benefit from trading with each other. Their pitching depth is as deep, or deeper than the Indians middle infield depth.
Trading Lindor isn't ideal, but the blessing of depth at such a critical position should be taken advantage of regardless if it's Lindor, Gonzalez, or Ramirez traded for an area of need.
The Indians window is NOW. Donaldson could give them a legit chance to make a deep run these next 3 years... I'd deal Lindor for Donaldson. Beltre, Frazier, or even Stanton (strictly due to his contract coming up in a few years), no way... but for Donaldson, who's an all around player, I do it.