Cleveland, Ohio – The Cleveland Indians are set to open the 2019 season tomorrow in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Twins.
After appearing in the World Series in 2016 the Indians are expected to once again compete for an AL Pennant in 2019.
However, everything is not sunshine and rainbows in Cleveland these days. Owner Paul Dolan put fans on edge recently with his comments regarding 3x All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor.
“Enjoy him. We control him for three more years. Enjoy him and we’ll see what happens,” Dolan said in an interview with The Athletic.
Certainly the Indians will have this year to compete for a championship and possibly the next, but the window could be closing before our eyes.
Ace Corey Kluber is now 32-years-old and not getting any younger. Kluber has been rumored in trades this offseason, but ended up staying put. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer is less than thrilled with ownership after claiming they tried to assassinate his character during his arbitration hearing. He very well could be on the move after this season.
Finally Jason Kipnis, the heart and soul of the team, is also beginning to show signs of slowing down as he is about to turn 32-years-old and has been battling injuries the past few seasons. Since 2016 Kipnis hasn’t batted over a .232 for an entire season.
So now this brings me back to Lindor.
There is no denying the young shortstop they call “Mr. Smile” is a player that you can build a franchise around. He is easily one of the best players at his position in the world.
However, would Lindor be willing to stay in Cleveland during a potential rebuild down the road, or better yet, would he even have a choice?
Dolan is a notoriously cheap owner and Lindor will command a massive deal similar to that of Manny Machado’s 10-year $300 million deal.
If Dolan does not want to pay Lindor then there is no reason for him to stick around, and rightfully so. Lindor has earned a big payday and has given a lot to the city of Cleveland.
If it becomes clear Lindor is on the way out via free agency then he will almost certainly be traded so the Indians can get some pieces in return for their generational talent.
Certainly there is a possibility that Lindor could still receive a massive extension and play his entire career in Cleveland, but that is up in the air after Dolan’s comments.
Like we’ve seen time and time again in sports this is a situation that will likely not be solved anytime soon, and I can guarantee you that it will get uglier before it gets better. Expect the next few trade deadlines to revolve around Lindor until this is resolved.
Currently, Lindor will open the 2019 season on the injured list with a moderate right calf strain. The earliest he can return to the Tribe’s lineup is April 4.