Re-signing Francisco Lindor to new contract might leave you thinking the Tribe’s payroll would sky rocket, when in reality, not much could change.
As crazy as it seems, negotiations between the Cleveland Indians and Francisco Lindor are alive. Now, it remains unclear if “life support” would be better the phrase, but at least the two sides are talking.
Most loyal Tribe fans probably just assumed their All-Star short stop would be playing somewhere else sooner than later, so any news that the two sides are talking is big news.
The two sides reportedly have set a March deadline for this season to conclude negotiations, so, while it still seems like the longest of long shots, could the cash strapped Tribe keep one of the greatest players to ever wear an Indians’ uniform?
The Indians have been slashing payroll for the past two seasons, but former GM Jim Duquette believes the Dolan family could afford to pay Lindor for the next 10 years. He talked about where things stand on Sirius XM Radio’s Power Alley.
"“They absolutely could fit him into their payroll…and it doesn’t take $150 million like they had in 2018 to be able to afford him. Last year, was $129-$130 million, right in that range. Lindor was making $30 of that that, that is between 20-25 percent…Could they afford that. Could they build a roster around that?”"
Duquette’s point is well taken. The Indians have just three players who consume a double-digit percentage of the payroll. Lindor, making $17.5 million in arbitration, takes up about 21 percent of the Tribe’s 2020 payroll.
After Lindor, it’s Carlos Santana ($16.8 million, about 20 percent) Carlos Carrasco ($10.2 million, 12 percent). That’s it. Following Carrasco, it’s Brad Hand (8.39 percent), Jose Ramirez (7.97 percent) , Cesar Hernadnez (7.49 percent) and Mike Clevinger (4.92).
To top it all off–and I’m not saying this is a good thing–but the Indians hold a club option for Santana next season, meaning his salary would come off the books through the simple act of paperwork.
Duquette is correct in stating that the rest of the Tribe’s team, especially the starting rotation, isn’t making all that much cash. He’s right. Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale all figure to be around for a while.
With that said, those players will hit arbitration at some point, and if they’re as good as we think they are, we’re seeing that arbitration can be expensive. Look no further than the deals Lindor and Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer signed this past offseason.
Cleveland has a $90 million payroll this season, so if Santana’s money shifted to Lindor, the Indians could probably operate with a payroll around $110 million factoring in raises for other players. Signing Lindor would still limit who the Indians are able to keep and sign, though.
For example, since I mentioned Santana…you’d be searching for first baseman who’s good with the globe AND can handle the stick if you part ways.
More likely than not, Lindor is probably playing somewhere else after the 2021 season, but as for now, I’m glad he’s here. The Indians haven’t ended their season with a win in over 70 years and to win the World Series, you need great players. Ideally, the team can win the whole thing, making parting with Lindor a little easier.