Early on Sunday, a report from Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto surfaced that the Cleveland Indians “would love” to strike up a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays over star shortstop Francisco Lindor, and see outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as the centerpiece for the return.
If I were Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins, I’d have picked up the phone so fast my head would have spun. This is a team coming off the back of a playoff appearance and with a young roster. If they’re to become serious contenders to win the World Series, Lindor could be a big help there. He is the owner of a career .285/.346/.488 line and consistently plays Gold Glove-caliber defense.
The addition of Lindor also gives the Blue Jays a loaded potential infield with Bo Bichette sliding to third base in addition to Cavan Biggio at second and Vladimir Guerrero Jr manning first. Toronto are believed to be legitimate players for free agent George Springer, so it’s clear they’re after quality bats in the lineup.
Two question marks around a potential deal could pose a serious threat to Mr. Smile moving north of the border however. The biggest question that will deter the Blue Jays is whether or not Lindor would sign an extension. Lindor is due to be a free agent after the 2021 season and the Toronto would likely be unwilling to give up young controllable talent at the big league or minor league level for one year of Lindor.
The Indians front office will also likely be losing sleep over potential returns for their star. Cleveland have backed themselves into a corner regarding a Lindor trade. Everyone has seen the comments from owner Paul Dolan to “enjoy him” as they likely can’t afford to re-sign him. The Indians won’t want to “give him away”, but likely won’t fetch quite the return many think they will.
The Indians would do very well to get back a quality controllable big leaguer and a high-tier prospect from any team. A trade for Gurriel Jr. and a prospect like shortstop Kevin Smith, the #19 prospect in the Blue Jays farm system, could serve to soften the blow of losing Lindor. The Indians have struggled to get consistent offense from their outfield and Gurriel Jr. would fix that problem. The owner of a career .836 OPS would give them a middle of the order bat to replace some of Lindor’s production.
Lindor would give Toronto a big star to go with their young core while Cleveland get back a potential big league shortstop and their left fielder locked down for the next few seasons. Win-Win.