Yesterday we talked about how the Indians seem intent on trading two of their best players — each of whom are under team control, paid far less than their actual baseball value for at least two years — despite the fact that they should be considered contenders for the American League Central title.
I still don’t know why, other than a simple desire to clear more profit by spending less on players, the Indians would want to do this, but they are doing it. And, it would seem, they are doing it in a manner calculated to give them less of a return than they might otherwise be able to get. How? By placing an artificial deadline on offers for Lindor:
The Francisco Lindor talks appear to be reaching a critical stage.
The Indians are telling clubs interested in trading for Lindor that they want each team’s best and final offers so they can make an assessment over the weekend.
That’s Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic. Rosenthal quotes a source who, quite sensibly, notes that the Indians could probably get more for Lindor as the offseason goes on and teams are better-aware of their needs. For example, say you are in the market for Josh Donaldson and you’re one of the 29 teams who do not end up with him. A Lindor trade would also help shore up the left side of the infield and give you a middle-of-the-order bat, right? The Indians, however, appear to be in a dang hurry and cannot be bothered to wait for the market to come to them.
But like everyone says: when you have the chance to trade away an all-world shortstop with a big bat who is under team control at a bargain price when you’re a contender, you have to make that trade, every time, even if it means cutting off all your leverage. That’s just basic sense.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.