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What Does the Francisco Lindor Trade Mean for the Twins?


Francisco Lindor has exited the American League Central. What does this mean for the Twins and the cost of a trade for Trevor Story or Javier Báez?BLOCKBUSTER EMERGES

 

News broke Thursday that the New York Mets would be acquiring Lindor, the electric 27-year-old whose best baseball is seemingly ahead of him. This move was inevitable. Cleveland shopped Lindor to the Dodgers last offseason but couldn’t strike a deal, spurring the 2020 World Series Champions to acquire Mookie Betts from the Red Sox.

 

This time around, Cleveland wouldn’t be denied. There was no chance they were going to pay Lindor an estimated $19.5 million in his final year of arbitration after a year with lost revenues. It was equally implausible for the pocket-clenching Indians to extend the face of their franchise for what he believes he’s worth.

 

Twins fans can first breath a sigh of relief. Since his debut in 2015, no player has more hits against Minnesota than Lindor (112). He’s hit 17 homers off the Twins, tied for second-most with Josh Donaldson. He ranks second in runs created (64.6) to only teammate José Ramírez (65.8).

 

In the most polite way possible, see the door, Mr. Lindor.

 

COOKIE CLEARS OUT

 

Lost in the galore of Lindor is the other player heading to Queens. Carlos Carrasco, who posted a strong 3.59 FIP and 29% strikeout rate in 2020, will join Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and eventually Noah Syndergaard atop the Mets’ rotation.

 

Cleveland cut their 2021 payroll to a dwindled $40 million. Ramírez, the A.L.’s 2020 MVP runner-up, is their highest paid player at $9.4 million.

 

Cleveland has flipped Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and now Lindor and Carrasco within 18 months.

 

The Mets sent four players with a combined 20 years of team control in return. Perhaps the most exciting of the bunch, shortstop Andrés Giménez projects as a glove-first starter, if not an offensive liability.

 

Amed Rosario, once a top prospect, will look to discover in Cleveland what made him so desirable as a youngster. 20-year-old righty Josh Wolf will enter Cleveland’s mad pitching lab that seems to create aces on call. The youngest player in the deal, 19-year-old Isaiah Greene projects as a centerfielder with some upside at the plate.

 

Simply, Cleveland received two major-league ready middle-infielders in Giménez and Rosario and two younger prospects in Wolf and Greene. MLB Trade Simulator says it was an equally valuable deal.

 

Screen Shot 2021 01 08 At 12.32.58 AM

 

The idea that Lindor could join the Twins was always far-fetched. Cleveland would have to be blown away by an offer to surrender such talent to their divisional foe.

 

There are other shortstops, though, who could shift Jorge Polanco to a utility role in 2021 before Royce Lewis hopefully fills the position permanently in 2022.

 

Among free agents: Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius. For trade targets...

 

EL MAGO

 

Cubs star Javier Báez. The brother-in-law of José Berríos also has only one year left before free agency. Báez is projected to make just under $11 million, a very reasonable price for his upside.

 

The Puerto Rican slugger is also one of the best defenders in the game. Báez has saved more runs (33) than any shortstop in baseball over the last two seasons.

 

Among 30 shortstops who’ve spent at least 200 games at the position since 2016, Báez ranks 3rd in slugging (.490) and home runs (108) and 6th in bWAR (18.0).

 

Even with a poor 2020 season, Báez has an extremely favorable outlook. He isn’t as good as Lindor but also costs nearly $10 million less. His price in a trade would likely require one of the Twins’ top five prospects or a slew in the 6-15 range.

 

STORYBOOK ENDING

 

Trevor Story's fate is easier to predict. The Rockies aren’t competing and would probably love to save $18.5 million for 2021. Story is a premium athlete with a huge bat. He’s slugged a monstrous .585 in five years with Colorado while saving 45 runs defensively, good for third among shortstops during that span.

 

MLB Trade Simulator is much more realistic on his value in a trade than they are on Báez’s. One year of Story is valued as almost the same as six-plus years of Alex Kirilloff or four-plus of Max Kepler.

 

In a quantity-over-quality deal, the Rockies or Cubs may seek a package with 18-year-old OF Misael Urbina, who hit .279/.382/.443 in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. Joining Urbina could be Keoni Cavaco, the toolsy shortstop picked 13th overall in the 2019 draft. Maybe RHP Blayne Enlow is involved, too.

 

The Twins' seventh, 10th, and 20th best prospects, plus perhaps one more piece could be enough to pry one of these expiring stars loose. This is simply framework speculation.

 

THE DIVISION

 

The Twins won seven of 10 games against Cleveland in 2020. Lindor hit .317/.341/.488 while scoring or driving in eight of the 26 runs scored (31%). Cleveland won't replace Lindor's production but it's not all doom and gloom.

 

Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and their never-ending growth of starters will keep them relevant. Franmil Reyes has undeniable power and Ramírez is a Twins-killing star. The outfield remains a mess, accumulating negative-1 fWAR in 2020, the second lowest in the A.L. The rotation is strong but won't make up for their massive flaws in lineup and roster depth.

 

Cleveland has officially waved the white flag on their divisional dominance.

 

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Hard to say how I feel about this -- I'm "surprised not surprised" I suppose, which is an odd thing to say.

 

I would not count Cleveland out just yet. The Twins had a lot of turnover in the 00s, but kept things rolling due to a good culture. Cleveland could continue to be good.

 

We also don't yet know what the Twins will do before 2021. They may make similar moves.

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As far as looking at trades Story or Baez according to baseball trading values (a site I like to check on), registers Story about 3x more valuable than Baez. Story is worth a little more than Larnach & Baez is worth a little more than Dobnak. If either clubs prefers  a combinations of lesser valued players can be negotiated like Nash noted. 

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Story's home/away splits scare me...a lot more than Baez's 2020 season. I would be very happy trading for Baez or signing Simmons. 

Story's stats are much better at Coors than away, this needs to be considered but Story is a stud. Baez has a great bat too, last year shouldn't be considered. Baez there's no doubt about his health, if the Twins are sure there won't be any problems w/ Simmons's ankles, I'm fine w/ Simmons also. But I prefer Baez's bat. I also like that Baez is Berrios's brother in law (I`d love the camaraderie between them) maybe you could to talk them both about extensions

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Cleveland may have pitching that they keep turning out, but they have ZERO offense.  They were barely doing anything on offense before, now they have even less.  No need to ever pitch to Ramirez because he will have no protection.  

 

There is almost no way Twins and Sox will be neck and neck for division and one will have a WC spot for sure, because the other three teams will all be near 100 losses I am guessing. 

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Nash, love the post and your ideas. Earlier you suggested a trade for Ketel Marte that was very intriguing. I'm still curious if there is any chance if the Diamondbacks could be talked into a reasonable trade.

Certainly Story and Baez are both worth looking at in the trade market. Colorado or the Cubs may be more interested in Josh Winder, but this is the year to take a chance. I am a big Jorge Polanco fan and have stated a defense of his position as our shortstop on numerous occasions. However, there are strong reasons to take on a one year contract for either Baez or Story. Extensions would be icing if at all possible for the Twins. While I'm not convinced at all that Chicago would part with Baez, neither his down 2020 nor Story's stats at Coors worry me in the least. These guys are both outstanding players. 

Any trade for either Baez or Story would affect the dollars available to fill SP and RP. Unfortunately, a play for Story would almost certainly mean that Nelson Cruz doesn't return. There should still be enough, however, to fill out our pitching needs. The next seven weeks promise to be exciting. Who knew this week would be so much fun. 

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I think the key thing to remember here is that Cleveland is doing a payroll dump, not a 1 for 1 exchange of potential talent. Cleveland will surrender a year of being competitive, save 40 million, and right ship in 2022. I think they know what they're doing. I always hate the sox, but I always respect Cleveland

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“Even with a poor 2020 season, Báez has an extremely favorable outlook. He isn’t as good as Lindor but also costs nearly $10 million less. His price in a trade would likely require one of the Twins’ top five prospects or a slew in the 6-15 range.”

 

https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/teams/457/

 

Baseball trade values has Baez median value at 11.7. Therefore a package of Cavaco (7.6) and Enlow (4.1) would be about right.

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A little caution for anyone looking at that trade site - it can be very distorted.

Example: let's trade for Baez and send over Smeltzer, Astudillo, and Gordon. This is big overpay by the Twins, but will the Cubs really consider this offer? Would you?

The site may be worth a look but it is pretty bogus overall.

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The dumbest thing the Twins could do would be to make a trade for anyone they can only control for one season. Foolish to give up prospects for a rental.

 

I also can't see the Twins signing any of these shortstops long term anyways. One reason is hoping Royce Lewis would be ready soon and the other the can't afford to give a massive deal to them either. No chance they would spend $250M+ for 8 years.

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A little caution for anyone looking at that trade site - it can be very distorted.

Example: let's trade for Baez and send over Smeltzer, Astudillo, and Gordon. This is big overpay by the Twins, but will the Cubs really consider this offer? Would you?

The site may be worth a look but it is pretty bogus overall.

Sign me up......hate to see Smeltzer go.

 

LOL
:)

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Nash, I'm on the same page page with tony&rodney, I'd like to kick the tires on a Ketel Marte trade if possible.  He's a solid bat and he fills so many possible holes for the Twins.

He can play CF, 2B, SS some 3B and I'm sure a corner outfield spot if needed.

He would be a regular player, in the lineup every day at a myriad of positions.

I'm also in agreement with Dr. Gast.  I like Polanco, but I would like an upgrade defensively at SS.  Baez, Story and Simmons are not just better defensively than Polanco they are all elite.  Story and Baez are elite offensively as well.  Simmons is not bad with the bat, just not in Story or Baez company.

So this is where it gets interesting.  I am a big fan of both Polanco and Nelson Cruz.

I agree if we acquired Story, that it would be a stretch to keep Cruz AND solidify the rotation and bullpen.

Baez can be had more cheaply in a trade but is a step below Story offensively.

IF  the Twins acquired Ketel Marte (and of course depending what they had to give up) as well as let's say Baez, then something would need to be done about Polanco/Arraez.  I value Arraez highly.  He should be our everyday, table-setting leadoff hitter.  But one of Polanco or Arraez would need to be traded.  One stays and plays 2B.  

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That's a huge UNDER pay by the Twins in real life. I would do that trade in a heartbeat. I'm really tired of seeing Astudillo ground out swinging at pitches six inches off the plate, and I don't think we'll ever see Gordon in a Twins uni, at least not for more than a couple cups of coffee. Baez for Smelter? Make that call.

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The dumbest thing the Twins could do would be to make a trade for anyone they can only control for one season. Foolish to give up prospects for a rental.

 

I also can't see the Twins signing any of these shortstops long term anyways. One reason is hoping Royce Lewis would be ready soon and the other the can't afford to give a massive deal to them either. No chance they would spend $250M+ for 8 years.

 

I agree with you completely  where trading good long-term assets for a 1 year rental. (See Realmuto to Philly) and many other examples. 

 

Signing a SS if Lewis is not going to stick at SS makes sense. I have no idea what level of confidence the FO has that he sticks at SS. He could be Buxton's replacement or even Donaldson's replacement with Donaldson to 1B and Sano to DH or traded. It might even make sense to get out of Donaldson's contract if he performs well enough this year to move him. Point being Lewis could be the guy to facilitate other moves.

 

The supply of free agent SS over the next 2 years should provide an opportunity to get better value (production/$) than most other years.

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I am another one who wonders why we would trade for a one year player.  Does it make sense to mess with Polanco's confidence?  If he is going to the bench I am ready for Lewis to step in.  Baseball has locked up minor league prospects with their arbitration years so we look at players who are at their peak or nearly so and overpay.  The problem with that is that at the peak all the directions you can take are down.  Think Pujols.  I worry that might be true for Donaldson.  

 

So buyer beware on all these great SS deals.  Tampa Bay stays relevant by trading for prospects, not established stars.  Cleveland finds a way to develop their pitchers. 

 

The 1987 - 1991 Twins stayed on top with a group that went through the minors together and then they added around the edges with Shannon Stewart/Dan Gladden and short term contracts with Morris, Winfield, and Molitor.  

 

We saw Jeffers, Rooker, Kiriloff, Alcala last year.  Lets keep moving in that direction.

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Trading Lindor could cost the Indians four or five wins, and could give the Twins two given how he's crushed us. That's not even counting the loss of Carrasco. Maybe a good trade for the long term, but a huge gift to the Twins for this year.

 

Lindor is projected at 4.8 WAR. He had  4.4 WAR in 2019 and was on a pace for 4.6 WAR in 2020 so this seems reasonable. Why would you assume Rosario and Gimenez perform at replacement level.  Rosario is projected at 2.2 WAR and Gimenez 1.7 WAR. Therefore, the projected delta is .7 WAR. 

 

You are also making an assumption Cleveland does nothing to improve their club with the available funds or assets. Maybe they don’t but what if they use the $20M from Lindor to get a 3 WAR outfielder for $8M. What if they produce another 3 WAR by using the remaining $12M on other upgrades? I realize it’s theoretical but they would improve by 5.3 WAR + 2 prospects.  Carrasco is 34 and 34 y/o SP s are very risky.  They could replace him at some point in free agency with a younger SP for the same money.

 

It’s surprising Tampa’s success (Oakland too) would educate fans on the necessity for teams outside the top revenue markets to get something in return for top players they can’t possibly afford to retain. Also keep in mind that no other team in baseball shared the opinion that Lindor / Carrasco were worth more or they would have been traded somewhere other than NY. Also keep in mind that Rosario just reached 1500 ABs which is quite often the point where MLB players step up and Gimenez was on pace for 2.1 WAR in his Rookie campaign. There is a slot of upside in this deal for Cleveland while moving a 34 y/o SP and a guy with 1 year of control. Obviously, it's not as simple as adding up projected WAR but the guys running the show in Cleveland know what they are doing.

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Why does everyone presume Cleveland is just rolling over? They have positioned their team to take advantage of the extremely unusual free agent market. IDK if they will just cut payroll but they could easily afford to sign …

 

One or even two of Marcel Ozuna / Joc Pederson / Eddie Rosario / Michael Brantley?

 

A free agent 1B / OF combo guy with a good bat.

 

Jake Odorizzi gives them a significantly younger SP than Carrasco. If they can’t land Odorizzi, there are a number of other SPs they could bring in for depth.

 

Add 2 established RPs

 

This could be done with high quality players for $40-50M or less. Their total payroll would be $75-85M and their offense would be substantially improved. How does this impact the Twins? Cleveland will be more likely to be competitive over the next several years. They also remove the risk associated with a SP in their age 34-36 seasons. Carrasco has been good but I would not argue if there strategy was to reinvest those payroll dollars in younger players. Plus, they have room in the budget going forward. These decisions impact the team for years and a lot pf people are focused on the moment and not even considering their options.

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The Athletic asked for underrated prospects and wouldn't you know the Indians would list a pitcher - 

Cleveland Indians

Carlos Vargas, RHP
Age: 21 B: R T: R HT: 6-3 WT: 180

 

Scouting grades:
FB: 75 SLI: 65 CH: 40 CTL: 50 CMND: 40

 

Vargas throws 98-100 mph, which explodes at the strike zone like fireworks on the Fourth of July, with run and sink. He also has a nasty late-breaking slider that hitters consistently swing over. His changeup is below average and needs a ton of work. His stuff is so overpowering that he projects either as an impact closer or, if the changeup develops, a mid-rotation-type starter. How he’s not higher on prospect lists is beyond me with that ridiculous stuff.

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It’s surprising Tampa’s success (Oakland too) would educate fans on the necessity for teams outside the top revenue markets to get something in return for top players they can’t possibly afford to retain. Also keep in mind that no other team in baseball shared the opinion that Lindor / Carrasco were worth more or they would have been traded somewhere other than NY. Also keep in mind that Rosario just reached 1500 ABs which is quite often the point where MLB players step up and Gimenez was on pace for 2.1 WAR in his Rookie campaign. There is a slot of upside in this deal for Cleveland while moving a 34 y/o SP and a guy with 1 year of control. Obviously, it's not as simple as adding up projected WAR but the guys running the show in Cleveland know what they are doing.

It might be necessary; that doesn't mean it will help them win on the field. Two different arguments. I also don't buy the idea that every trade is shopped extensively and therefore the winning bid is the best one. Other teams might have valued them much more highly but not had the assets to trade or the willingness to take on the salary; teams in the division might not have been allowed to trade; Lindor might have signaled to certain teams he would never re-sign with them if traded there; there's far too much going on behind the scenes to assume that trading markets automatically send assets to the team that is both able and willing to give up the most talent.

 

The simple question was how it affects the Twins. If anyone thinks the Indians are going to be better in 2021 because of this trade, I disagree. Does that make it a bad trade for the Indians to make? I don't care, I just think the Twins are in clearly better shape because of this trade.

 

The Indians might know what they are doing, as you say, but I don't think what they are doing is trying to win in 2021.

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It might be necessary; that doesn't mean it will help them win on the field. Two different arguments. I also don't buy the idea that every trade is shopped extensively and therefore the winning bid is the best one. Other teams might have valued them much more highly but not had the assets to trade or the willingness to take on the salary; teams in the division might not have been allowed to trade; Lindor might have signaled to certain teams he would never re-sign with them if traded there; there's far too much going on behind the scenes to assume that trading markets automatically send assets to the team that is both able and willing to give up the most talent.

 

The simple question was how it affects the Twins. If anyone thinks the Indians are going to be better in 2021 because of this trade, I disagree. Does that make it a bad trade for the Indians to make? I don't care, I just think the Twins are in clearly better shape because of this trade.

 

The Indians might know what they are doing, as you say, but I don't think what they are doing is trying to win in 2021.

 

Again, this is a bubble view. If they do nothing else, I agree completely, that they are less of a factor and the twins benefit this year. I doubt that is the case. Cleveland / Tampa / Oakland have all shuffled assets in this fashion in the past. It's a better buyers market in free agency than we have seen in a long time. They have the great pitching and a good infield with upside. Outfielders are the easiest asset to find in free agency and probably the most reliable.

 

There is a lot of off-season left. IDK what Cleveland will do but I think the outline I provided is very doable and within a very modest payroll. My bet is they take advantage of this market. Even if they don't, they substantially improved their team beyond 2021. Fans who put huge weight on the current year will have a fit but that kind of micro view is a good way to always be mediocre. GMs can't afford that point of view if they want to keep their job. I guess the bottom line is that at a minimum they will be better after this year. Best case scenario for them they land some very good players for the next 2-3 years via free agency and remain a contender now and into the future. 

 

 

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