When a team wins 106 games in the regular season, you don’t typically hear people clamoring for them to make a blockbuster move in the offseason. On the other hand, when you’re the undisputed favorite to win your respective league and proceed to lose in the first round of the playoffs and come up short in nearly every season of the current decade, management has to do something. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, that something is acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians.
The recurring buzz surrounding the Indians the past year has been that they could trade Lindor this offseason, as he’s now two years away from free agency, and the organization isn’t likely to re-sign him. This should be music to president Andrew Friedman’s ears.
Lindor is arguably the best shortstop in Major League Baseball. In the field, he’s a sight to behold. He fields groundballs in the hole and off his backhand, has a cannon for an arm, and turns double plays with ease. Lindor’s defensive arsenal would potentially be enough for him to reel in an eight figure per year contract even if he posed little to no threat in the batter’s box.
However, he’s far from a minuscule threat at the plate; he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Lindor is a well-balanced, yet highly productive hitter. He has a level power swing, which results in line drives and few strikeouts. Meanwhile, he has above-average speed and wreaks havoc on the baspaths. Over the last two years Lindor has compiled 47 stolen bases. In the batter’s box, the switch hitter has compiled 103 home runs and 255 RBIs since 2017. In doing so, he has posted OPS totals of .842, .871, and .854. That production came while hitting at or near the top of the Indians order.
Let’s plug this bat into a depth chart that includes 2019 National League Most Valuable Player Award finalist Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, and Alex Verdugo. How’s that offense looking?
Concurrently, Lindor would take an already fundamentally sound infield to the next level with his defensive intangibles. Some combination of Lindor, Turner, Muncy, Taylor, and Hernandez in the infield? Let’s sign that combo up for one of the best defensive infields in baseball.
Lindor makes an already deep lineup relentless and improves a ballclub that had few, if any glaring weaknesses last season. He’d set the table for the heavy swingers in the middle of manager Dave Roberts‘ lineup and help provide more run support for a starting rotation that features the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Kenta Maeda (probably).
So how do the Dodgers get the Lindor pixilations onto the big screen? Well, for starters, they have to part with some of their top prospects such as Gavin Lux, Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, and Jeter Downs, among others. They were supposedly unwilling to deal a severe combination of those players for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez at last season’s MLB trade deadline. Perhaps it was because they’re only surrendering such a haul for a player of Lindor’s status?
The Dodgers could also dangle shortstop Corey Seager in trade talks. Like Lindor, Seager is under contract for two years, and the Indians could view him as a headliner in a potential trade. If you’re acquiring one of the best players in baseball, somebody is going to be taking a seat or sent elsewhere anyway, right?
According to MLB.com‘s Jon Morosi, the Dodgers are expected to make a push for the Indians shortstop this offseason. But, at the end of the day, they have to actually make the deal, rather than just pique the excitement of their fan base by a mere phone call or two.
What took place in the National League Division Series was nothing short of a nightmare for the Dodgers. They held a 2-1 series lead on the Washington Nationals, as well as a 3-1 lead with one out in the eighth inning of Game 5 at home and lost the series.
You can slice it any way you want: Roberts had the worst night of his managerial tenure, Kershaw wet the bed, Joe Kelly was rocked, or the Nationals were opportunistic. The Dodgers had to get five outs before the Nationals scored two runs; they didn’t get it done, and the Nationals won fair and square.
Now the Dodgers have to take some chances. Nobody cares about their seven straight division championships or back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018. It’s World Series or bust with this team on a yearly basis because of the talent they have from all aspects of the game. If the postseason letdowns are going to continue, the Dodgers need to at least try something different.
The Dodgers have to make a decision on left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu this offseason, as he’s a free agent and coming off a phenomenal 2019 campaign. At the same time, trading for Lindor shouldn’t hinder the Ryu/starting pitching situation. It improves their roster, as they tread water on other matters.
You could argue that the Dodgers should drown star third baseman Anthony Rendon with a massive short-term deal. With that said, why would they mess with Turner? He’s one of the best third basemen in baseball and is an integral source of offense. Meanwhile, Lindor represents a clear upgrade over Seager at shortstop and wouldn’t force anyone to play out of position.
No move ensures a World Series championship for the Dodgers, but acquiring Lindor gives them another prolific player and someone who’d arguably be their best player from the get-go.