Detroit Tigers fans, it is time for the Francisco Lindor rumor train to began again.
Being in the AL Central, you pay attention to what your division rivals are doing as fans. It seems like for the past 2 or 3 seasons, Detroit Tigers fans are treated to the various rumors of Francisco Lindor being moved because Cleveland cannot afford to keep him.
He is going to be a free agent next season. Perhaps more so than ever, Cleveland may want to move him to get something in return. Today, Bob Nightengale reported this nugget to start up the hot stove. (Disclaimer: he can be wrong from time to time)
Last season, the Reds reported showing an interest in Lindor among other major markets teams like the Dodgers and Yankees who have prospects to give up to get the very talented shortstop. If you think I am here to tell you the Tigers should go and try to trade for Lindor, well, that is not the case. Here’s why:
The state of the farm system
Along with contributors Jacob Boes and Chris Brown teaming up with James Chipman, we recently came up with the top 55 prospects in the Detroit Tigers system on Prospects Live. For the past two years, we have all watched a lot of Tigers minor league baseball and the current state of the system is good. They have some pieces there to help out the ballclub in certain cases, sooner than later.
Detroit has focused on the infield in their last two drafts to shore up depth across the system however, due to the lack of a minor league season in 2020, all teams have lost a year of progression.
Tyler Freeman, the number three shortstop prospect in the Indians system according to Baseball America, was on the 60-man roster this past summer. Cleveland, in my opinion, may not feel comfortable rolling with a rookie shortstop in 2021 and Detroit does not have anyone on the big league roster that could jump in and make an impact.
Same for their minor league system. If Cleveland wants one of the big-name pitchers like Casey Mize or Tarik Skubal for example, they should be considered off-limits. Detroit has some names on the pitching side but still lacks depth beyond the Double-A level for starting pitching. Mize and Skubal may start the season on the rotation but they still need to acquire another starter or two to round out the rotation.
As my fellow contributor, Jacob Boes said in our Slack chat, Detroit could use the Mookie Betts trade as a blueprint. A third team to help bring a trade together? That could work but again, plays into what I was referring to and that is depth. The Dodgers have depth and that’s why they were able to give up Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, Kenta Maeda, and Jair Camargo.
Cleveland needs outfielders and Detroit is not giving up Riley Greene. If you have seen how the Tigers PR department is portraying him and Torkleson the last month on social media, you can see clearly he will be a Tiger for a long time.
Outside of Greene, Detroit like their pitchers has nothing ready above Double-A. I can see the comments coming in like “Well, Derek Hill, and a pitching prospect for Lindor” as a lame attempt for a joke.
If you are a fan of history, you certainly remember the Juan Gonzalez trade of 1999 and how even with the contract offer Detroit gave him, he turned it down. Lindor has already turned down several contract extensions with Cleveland. He will command a big salary. If Detroit traded half of the farm system to get him and he does not sign long term, then you are left with a depleted system.
Go for it next year if he is a free agent. It makes total sense for Detroit to make the pitch in 2021 when the Tigers have a better idea of what they have on their roster. Something else to consider, Willi Castro could get better defensively at short and the Tigers have a player who can handle the position without costing them a lot of money.
This team has too many holes to fill and trading for Lindor would not solve the starting pitching, the need for another bat in the outfield, a second baseman, a first baseman or a catcher.
I like Detroit to be bold, which is why I suggested Trevor Bauer yesterday as a signing. But in this case, stand pat and wait.