Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and the 2020 Hot Stove Season

As the World Series comes to a close, and with the Cleveland Indians’ frustrating 2019 season in the rearview mirror, news has been relatively quiet on the North Coast regarding your favorite baseball team. But with the Hot Stove season about to kick into full gear, Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff have no doubt been spending every waking second preparing to polish off their 2020 roster.

It’s likely to be a pretty quiet winter here in Cleveland, as it is during most winter months. While Antonetti and Chernoff have been in the mix for some big offseason moves over the tenure of their careers, with questions surrounding the true nature of the Indians payroll, it’s likely that the duo’s “biggest” moves will be finding the hidden gems of players that the Indians have become so good at.

But there are some interesting questions heading into 2020, and the biggest question just might be the “looming” free agency of Francisco Lindor. Please understand that “looming” in Cleveland for their superstars means “two-or-three years out,” and Lindor has entered that phase of his career here in Cleveland.

Lindor has two more seasons of arbitration with the Indians, giving the club two years to try and figure out how to sign their “face of the franchise,” if that’s even possible. With baseball’s collective bargaining agreement set to end in 2021, Lindor is likely to wait out his arbitration years, and look for the biggest contract in the history of baseball, if not in total money, than certainly in average salary per year. While that seems silly to some, Lindor plays a premiere position at a gold glove level, and can hit anywhere in the lineup. With a personality that most teams covet to go along with his offensive talent, it’s not a stretch to believe that Lindor can make a push towards $40 million a year, and would certainly be looking at a deal in the eight-to-ten year range, unless he wants to take a gamble at a shorter contract, but one that could pay off in another huge deal four or five years later.

That’s not likely

Nor is it likely that the Indians can afford that sort of money in any fashion, whether it be a shorter deal that buys out a few years of arbitration, but keeps Lindor in Cleveland for two or three more years, or a long-term deal that keeps the shortstop in town through his prime. The Dolans are willing to push the envelope when it makes sense, but spending close to $40 million for one player likely isn’t part of that equation, when your team payroll is likely going to live in the $110 million range.

EHC’s Gage Will and I dived into the Francisco Lindor conversation, and took a look at a few more questions as we dipped our feet back into the podcasting fray.

The topics:

  • What will it cost the Indians to re-sign Lindor?
  • What can the Indians expect in a return if they decide to trade Lindor?
  • Will Jason Kipnis return?
  • If Jason Kipnis doesn’t return, what’s the likelihood that a youngster takes over at second, as opposed to an older, “Francona-type.”
  • What about Jose Ramirez, who said he doesn’t matter playing second, as long as he isn’t bouncing around?
  • What about Nolan Jones? If Ramirez starts the year off at third, does that preclude Jones from debuting in 2020?
  • Which position does Ramirez prefer at this point in his career?
  • We also talked about Christian Arroyo, Mike Freeman, and yes, everyone’s favorite, Ryan Flaherty

Oh, and give Mitchell Krall a read over at WFNY. The kid can write. His latest on the Indians’ 40-man roster is exquisite.

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