CLEVELAND — Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings are approaching.
And the trade talk regarding Cleveland Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor doesn't appear to be dying down anytime soon.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Jeff Passan released a look at the biggest names that will likely be involved in trade talks at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego next week. And in doing so, he revealed that many around the league believe that it's not a matter of if the Indians will deal Lindor, but when.
"Lindor, multiple executives said, 'is going to get traded,'" Passan wrote. "They're not sure if it's this winter or this summer, but considering how disciplined the Indians are, they want to maximize Lindor's value, and doing so means trading him before the July 31 deadline."
While Passan added that it could "be a different story" should the Indians get off to a hot start in 2020, the reality remains that Lindor's contract status has likely put a timetable on his tenure with the team. WIth the Indians possessing just two more years of team control on Lindor's deal and no sign of a long-term contract in sight, Cleveland may be forced to decide between dealing the 4-time All-Star between now and next summer's trade deadline, seeing his trade value diminish next offseason when he has just one year of team control remaining or watching him walk for little more than a compensatory pick when he can become a free agent following the 2021 season.
As Passan noted, the Boston Red Sox found themselves in a similar situation last offseason with All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts. But rather than trade the 2018 MVP with two years remaining on his contract, the Red Sox opted to keep him and now find themselves fielding calls for lesser offers with his free agency only a year away.
"The Indians don't want to find themselves in a similar situation as Boston, with Betts' value diminished because he's so close to free agency," Passan wrote.
As for potential suitors for Lindor, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been linked to the 26-year-old since earlier this offseason. And it's perhaps worth noting that the Dodgers currently lay claim to one of the top farm systems in baseball, which would likely be a top priority for the Indians in any potential deal.