Sunday Morning Perspectives: Lindor and Why He Won’t Be a Yankee
With any delay, let’s get right to it:
Francisco Lindor just might be on the trading block. I will have to see it to believe it. Unless Cleveland gets overwhelmed by an offer, I just cannot see any reason why they would trade their most valuable player. Lindor still has two more seasons under team control. Trading him would effectively end any hopes the Indians have of competing – for years. I just don’t think a proud franchise like the Indians will do that. To me trading that player at this time make no sense. At all. If I were an Indians fan and they traded Francisco Lindor, I’d be outraged.
If Lindor is traded, I still give the Yankees a 0.01% chance of landing him. It’s just not happening. I say this for a variety of reasons. First, the Yankees feel they have their shortstop of now and the future already on the team. Gleyber Torres is the shortstop. He will be the shortstop. In eight years, baring injury, we’ll be talking about getting ready for the next season with Gleyber Torres as the Yankees’ shortstop. In eight years, the hope is that we’re debating the question of who was better: Jeter or Torres.
As a franchise, the Yankees also know that to land Lindor, they would have to give up a huge package of prospects (great prospects, not good prospects). It would hurt, a ton. Then they’d have to invest $300 million into extending Lindor’s contract so that he’d be a Yankee until the end of his career. (It would make no sense to empty the farm to have Lindor for only two seasons.) I do not believe the Yankees are all that interested, today or any day, in having two $300 million players sign with them in the same off-season. I also don’t think the Yankees wish to trade Jasson Dominguez as part of a trade. A trade with the Indians would have to begin with Dominguez – and/or maybe even Gleyber Torres. It would have to also include Deivi Garcia and more. Yeah, it would have to hurt. A lot. For the Indians to trade their franchise player, they would have to be overwhelmed. That trade would deplete the Yankees farm system and probably also cost Major League talent. That cost is far too high for a player, Lindor, who would be more of a luxury than a necessity.
I am certain, absolutely certain, that the Yankees feel they have a player who is very similar to Lindor in Gleyber Torres. But the Yankees are paying Torres millions and millions and millions fewer dollars than they’d have to pay Lindor. The Yankees take all of this into account in their decision making. Let’s take a look:
Lindor’s 2019 salary = $10,850,000.
Torres’ 2019 salary = $605,200.
Salary difference = $10,244,800.
Gleyber Torres was more than ten million dollars less expensive than Francisco Lindor in 2019. Since Lindor is arbitration eligible for next season, the gap in their salaries for next year will be even more dramatic. The Yankees were able to acquire Gerrit Cole because of players like Gleyber Torres who are great, but also inexpensive. The Yankees of today are not going to have Francisco Lindor and Gerrit Cole. They’d have one or the other. The Yankees got Gerrit Cole because they have so much young and inexpensive talent. It’s not Cole and Lindor…it’s Cole or Lindor.
Let’s do the old player-vs-player comparison:
2019 LINDOR: 143 games, .284/.335/.518 (with 40 doubles, 32 HR, 74 RBI) 4.7 bWAR
2019 TORRES: 144 games, .278/.337/.535 (with 26 doubles, 38 HR, 90 RBI) 3.9 bWAR
I do not believe the Yankees see Lindor, as great as he is, as an upgrade that is worth the cost (more than $10m in 2020 alone, ditto for 2021 through 2025. Please note, Torres doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2025 season.) Lindor will cost the Yankees hundred of millions of dollars as a (supposed) upgrade over Gleyber Torres. I just don’t see how or why they would make that decision.
We also don’t know how Gleyber Torres will perform over a full season (and multiple seasons) defensively as the starting shortstop. He might be very very good. He might be excellent. He might even be Gold Glove quality.
All of the above being said, sure, YES!, I’d love to have Francisco Lindor on the team. I also wanted the Yankees to get Bryce Harper and Patrick Corbin. Hey, if they’re going to spend billions, get Mookie Betts too. I love when the Yankees go out and spend. Spend, spend, spend. Win, win, win. YES! But the Yankees don’t operate like that any longer. They are smart. They are not going to invest in a player who is a luxury. The Yankees don’t have the need for a shortstop. They have an outstanding one already – and one who is very talented, who is just about Lindor’s equal, and is cost effective for the next five seasons.
It comes down to finances… to reiterate, the Yankees spent for Gerrit Cole,because there was a huge need for starting pitcher. The upgrade between Gerrit Cole and anyone the Yankees have as a starting pitcher for his spot in the rotation is miles long. It’s a huge gap – tremendous in magnitude. As such, Cole was worth the investment. The gap between Lindor and Torres is small – tiny, in fact. There will be years, I believe, when Gleyber Torres proves to be the more valuable player. If there is an upgrade, the upgrade, for the Yankees, isn’t worth the cost. Lindor will not be wearing pinstripes in 2020 or for the foreseeable future…if ever.