Cleveland is apparently seeking three MLB (or close to debuting) players for Francisco Lindor

Even when times are tough, Francisco Lindor speculation keeps the content wheel turning.

Everybody knows at this point that Cleveland is going to trade Lindor. They don’t want to pay him the ~$300 million it’ll take to keep him around long-term and they don’t even want to pay him the ~$20 million salary he’s going to command for the 2021 season.

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The Blue Jays are expected to be one of the teams in on Lindor this winter. There’s an obvious connection there because Lindor was drafted back when Mark Shapiro was with the organization so he’s a player that Toronto’s President and CEO knows well.

On Wednesday, Jon Morosi listed the Blue Jays as one of the five teams who are believed to be the strongest candidates to land Lindor. He lists the Blue Jays, Mets (who are looking to make a big splash under new owner Steve Cohen), Yankees, Phillies, and Cardinals.

We’ve heard a million times that the Blue Jays are probably going to try to acquire Lindor so this isn’t really anything new. But Morosi provides an interesting nugget later on in his article that sheds some light on what a trade might look like.

Apparently, Cleveland is looking for three players in return for Lindor who are either already Major Leaguers who can step in and help them right away or prospects who are close to being big-league ready.

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Cleveland asking for that as their return is one thing — actually getting it is another.

The team really isn’t bargaining from a position of strength right now. Everyone knows that Lindor is going to be traded and that Cleveland can’t even afford him in 2021 let alone long-term. Also, there are going to be fewer teams bidding than usual because the COVID-19 landscape has resulted in teams being stingier than usual.

Teams who want to add a big-time shortstop can also just wait for another year. Next year’s free-agent market is absolutely loaded with great options at short beyond Lindor, like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, and Corey Seager.

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I noted a few days ago that Cleveland shouldn’t net as much for Lindor as Boston did for Mookie Betts last year. The Red Sox dealt Betts and David Price’s contract (half of which was retained) for a good young player in Alex Verdugo, a top prospect in Jeter Downs, and a depth prospect in Connor Wong.

The Blue Jays’ comparable to that package would be something like Lourdes Gurriel, Jordan Groshans, and Riley Adams.

But, again, Cleveland isn’t negotiating from a position of strength and Lindor isn’t as good as Betts. Given the context, Toronto dealing both Gurriel, a good big-league player, and Groshans, a top-100 prospect, would be a huge overpay.

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Over at The Athletic, Jim Bowden looked at possible suitors for Lindor and suggested a much, muuuuuuch lighter package than the one Morosi’s update would suggest…

The Blue Jays could offer the Indians either Cavan Biggio or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. off their major league team; Biggio is controlled through 2025 and Gurriel through 2024. One year of control of Lindor for either four or five years of control of Biggio or Gurriel would make it tough for the Indians to say no. However, most likely the Blue Jays would rather make it a prospect trade, as long as it didn’t include top prospects like Nate Pearson, Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans or pitchers like Alek Manoah and Simeon Woods Richardson. Perhaps a package centered around shortstop Orelvis Martinez and catcher Gabriel Moreno along with right-handed pitcher Adam Kloffenstein could get it done.

I’m of the same mind as Bowden here. Cleveland is desperate to trade Lindor. Why help them out?