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Why trading Francisco Lindor would be a bad idea

Why trading Francisco Lindor would be a bad idea
Francisco Lindor (Photo:
October 19, 2014
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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 somethingthe bigger the prize, or in this case player, the bigger the return.

As we have seen on this very site, names like Giancarlo StantonJosh DonaldsonAdrian 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 SmithBarry LarkinDerek 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 %
Dave Concepcion 0.942 0.971
Ozzie Smith 0.943 0.978
Barry Larkin 0.955 0.975
Derek Jeter 0.933 0.976
Jimmy Rollins 0.955 0.983
JJ Hardy 0.963 0.982
A. Simmons 0.967 0.981
Francisco Lindor 0.964 ???

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. 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:,, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law of ESPN and’s Jonathan Mayo. In these rankings, Lindor ranked as high as #5 by 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 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.

Brandon Phillips or Ramon Vazquez? The Indians chose Vazquez, which was a terrible 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.

User Comments

ViC Venom
October 22, 2014 - 1:35 AM EDT
Agree with everything you said homie. Maybe we can trade Kipnis for Jose Altuve???
October 20, 2014 - 2:32 PM EDT
Now that I got my sarcasm out of the way, I completely agree about Lindor. The scouting reports from the AFL are absolutely glowing about him. Plus-to-elite defense at a premium position, outstanding makeup, hasn't even turned 21, and the power even started to show up this season.

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.
October 20, 2014 - 2:20 PM EDT
After we trade Bourn for CarGo we should trade House for Kershaw and Swisher for Stanton. That should get us to the playoffs. Baseball is so easy. Wish they'd put us in charge so we can make these brilliant trades.
October 20, 2014 - 1:31 PM EDT
Jimmy, if you can make that trade happen I'll write your name in the presidential election ballad. Bourn for CarGon would be the trade of the century. I like the way you think though. Hose the other guy if he's willing to take it!
d k
October 20, 2014 - 12:36 PM EDT
I think that Donaldson would be the missing piece too. I keep reading on Oakland boards that it isnt Lindor they want but Jose Ramirez with Chisenhall for Donaldson. If this is true, the Indians ought to jump on it like NOW. Lindor and Donaldson would give them a shutout left side of the infield on defense and if Lindor struggles to hit, Donaldson would make up for it. Gonzalez presence means Lindor is not going to be without an option if he completely blows up in the show.

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
ViC Venom
October 20, 2014 - 3:54 AM EDT
Why would the Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez for Bourn????????
October 19, 2014 - 6:24 PM EDT
The only way I would trade Lindor is for Stanton and no other trade. If I traded anyone it would be Bourn for Carlos Gonzalez and put Brantley back in center field. Now you have in Gonzalez a right fielder that can hit 30 home runs. Left field Lonnie C. Now infield, 3b - Lindor, ss- Ramirez, 2b - Kipnis and 1b - Santana with c- Gomes. Bench - Walters, Urshela, Perez, and Holt. DH can come from bench players, maybe rotation of the four.
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.
Canadian Joe
October 19, 2014 - 4:29 PM EDT
Thanks Tony. I agree. I think we keep Lindor, Urshela and Ramirez for the time being,with Gonzalez as well. Let things develop and see what other teams need. We are strong in the middle. Let's use it.We have to wait this scenario out. Let the others come to us. I think we are in too strong a position. Don't want to see this hand misplayed !!!!
October 19, 2014 - 3:50 PM EDT
Excellent banter & points by all. We are not all going to agree on everything. @ John L, the root of Lindor's back problems was due to extra lifting (which can be a painful transition when you're not used to it), extra swinging/twisting. As a HS player, your training is limited. But as a pro, different story. They worked with him to strengthen his core, so now his back is stronger. @ Gregg, agree on the RH RF, but unless a trade happens as you suggest, guys like Alex Rios or Mike Morse at discounted rates is most likely the best we can hope for. Teams that win are normally strong up the middle C,2B,SS,CF defensively for many years just think of the Tribe of the 90s. I think Gomes, Kipnis, Lindor & Brantley (or Naquin) could provide the most stability. What do you guys think of that assessment?
October 19, 2014 - 3:34 PM EDT
The Indians have three major needs;

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.
October 19, 2014 - 2:43 PM EDT
I hope the Indians just keep all three for the time being, instead of going short term. Having seen the Phillies trade Ryne Sandberg because of their prospect depth At that time, I don't want a repeat by the Indians.
October 19, 2014 - 2:03 PM EDT
Idk, I'm not convinced, but I would prefer Lindor of the three. As for trading him, I'm hesitant to trade Lindor, but if I really felt that Gonzalez could be as good Id consider it.

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.
October 19, 2014 - 1:20 PM EDT
Lindor had a back injury at the end of last season and was fine once spring training came this season. It was not an issue this year.
Canadian Joe
October 19, 2014 - 1:07 PM EDT
A one time injury, not considered serious and you want to trade him ? No way. We have 3 solid ss prospects and you trade the best one away ? No thanks. He played the whole year without incident. I'll take my chances with Lindor.
October 19, 2014 - 12:47 PM EDT
John L what do you propose they trade him for? If you dig hard enough you will find a minor injury on every player at some point. Not saying I wouldn't trade him, but it would have to be a special player we're getting back.
John L.
October 19, 2014 - 12:09 PM EDT
Trade Lindor, trade him now. Another article again written about Lindor that does not mention his back issues he experienced. Granted it wasn't a severe back injury but he's young and already experiencing back pain? Pull the trigger. This kid could be the next Nomar Garciaparra, Rocco Baldelli, or Grady Sziemore, unlimitless potential but a body not able to keep up.
October 19, 2014 - 11:25 AM EDT
Prospect rankings need to taken with a grain of salt. For example, the Phillies prospect Maikel Franco is listed as a 3B, but likely a 1B. He is ranked #54 by and posted a line of .257/.299/.428/.727 while our own Jesus Aguilar posted a line of .304/.395/.511/.905. but is not ranked in the top 100. Franco is 2 years younger, but Aguilar has had 3 seasons of solid play. My point is those prospects with a pedigree get more attention and respect than those that don't. Lindor will probably be an All-Star SS, but don't downplay how good Gonzalez is because of it. His stock is rising fast.
October 19, 2014 - 11:13 AM EDT
Nice post Sam. I appreciate the point about making the right choice. Plenty of times teams don't! And the Indians can't afford not to make the right one in this instance. I agree w you, you just don't trade a guy like Lindor. No way.

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.
October 19, 2014 - 10:35 AM EDT
Good read from another Indians' fan in Myrtle Beach.
MT88 in WI
October 19, 2014 - 9:36 AM EDT
Send Chisenhall to the Dodgers for Van Slyke.
October 19, 2014 - 9:34 AM EDT
I wouldn't trade Lindor for Donaldson. Ramirez isn't Lindor and neither is Gonzalez. If they were, other teams would know it. Give another team their choice of the three, who do you think they'd pick? I sure as hell wouldn't add a ML SP into the mix. This is sort of a Vizquel/Fryman comp. I loved Fryman but Omar was a ton more valuable IMO. I agree with Gregg, right field is the position to target. If they still want to platoon they can pick up Kevin Pillar from the Jays for probably next to nothing. He's a kid who at 25 and in limited playing time had a near .800 OPS against lefties. He improved steadily all season with the bat, runs well & can play any OF position. I liked him coming out of college & he was quite good in the minors. The Jays are always looking for bullpen help, we could get him for a Minor league reliever. We got Gomes for Esmil Rogers, let's stick it to them again. And don't trade Lindor, he's going to be really good for a long time.
October 19, 2014 - 9:29 AM EDT
Amen. Great article in why not to trade Lindor. My belief is Lindor will be better option at SS than Ramirez. Lindor could be the next superstar for the Indians. As Tony has stated many times, the only person that Lindor should be included in a trade is to get Stanton.
October 19, 2014 - 9:22 AM EDT
Lindor too me looks like a Gary Templeton caliber SS with better plate discipline, power and defense. Shortstops with that upside are few and far between. Kid can impact the team in so many ways. Lindor should be untouchable . Gonzales is a career utilty infielder, Ramirez is an old school secondbaseman like a Willie Randolph , Frank White 1970's players that had great small ball tools. Donaldson will turn 30 next year and is at his peak as a player. I am not going to give away a 20 year old switch hitter with 5 tool potential for a guy that posts numbers like Donaldson's:268 .347 .458 .805. Donaldson is not to be confused with Scott Rolen or Mike Schmidt!
October 19, 2014 - 9:00 AM EDT
What ever the Indians do they must - must - get more right handed.

October 19, 2014 - 8:40 AM EDT
Gregg you're right. It wasn't my idea, and I was even sceptical, but Van Slyke would be a nice fit on this team. It shouldn't take Lindor to get him either.
October 19, 2014 - 7:29 AM EDT
The Indians need a right handed hitting right fielder far more than they need Donaldson. Just be patient, Urshela is going to fill the bill at third base quite nicely.

October 19, 2014 - 6:35 AM EDT
The depth of Ramirez, Lindor, and Gonzalez give the Indians options to improve the big league team, but in order to trade Lindor the other team would have to value him as a quality major league SS. I would not trade Lindor and 3 other quality players for Donaldson, and I would certainly not add Salazar or Bauer to that package either unless a better SP was aquired in another trade.

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.

ViC Venom
October 19, 2014 - 5:19 AM EDT
Great article again my friend. It would be not wise to trade Lindor at this point.
October 19, 2014 - 12:49 AM EDT
The argument I make is that getting someone like Donaldson for 4 years (let's assume the Indians sign him through his arbitration years and buy out a year of FA with an option) is probably going to create the same value as 6 years of Lindor on a WAR basis. Donaldson fixes the IF defense and lengthens the lineup considerably. Sure, Lindor might hit right away, but then again, he might not. He's not as valuable if he's not hitting .300 with a solid OBP.

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.

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