After an offseason of trade rumors, the Indians still employ superstar Francisco Lindor. This is the time of year for extension talks and there are indications of mutual interest. But it’s far from clear there’s a match to be made.
Both Lindor and Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti addressed the shortstop’s contract situation today, with ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez covering. He’s slated to earn $17.5MM this year with one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining, though the only hope of him remaining in town for the long run would be a new deal of some kind.
Lindor left no doubt he sees Cleveland as “home” and expressed a strong desire to stay and win with his sole professional organization. The 26-year-old also suggested he thinks a long-term contract is possible — and not just in the perfunctory way we sometimes hear from players.
“If the negotiations or whatever makes sense, it’s gonna happen,” Lindor said of a potential blockbuster extension. “The team is not broke. The league is not broke. There’s money.”
So, if Lindor truly wants to stay and feels the economic bridge can be spanned … is there a chance? Antonetti was rather less sanguine, his comments leaving the sense that player and team may well be fated by broader forces to part.
While he says there have been “meaningful efforts” to reach a deal in the past and acknowledges Lindor’s sincerity, Antonetti struck a realistic tone. While the team would also “love for Francisco to be here long-term,” Antonetti explained, it just isn’t that simple.
“It’s not because of a lack of desire on our part, or not because of a lack of desire on Francisco’s part. But more when you look at the economics of baseball and the realities of building championship teams in a small market, it gets really tough. The interest is there, the desire is there, on both sides, to try to get something done. And whether or not that’s possible we just don’t know.”
That stance jives with prior comments of Indians owner Paul Dolan, who has made clear he doesn’t find $300MM+ contracts plausible in the near future for his organization. Dolan also has advised fans to enjoy Lindor while he’s still with the club.