MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Possible Francisco Lindor Trade, Josh Donaldson, More

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 16, 2019

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians in the dugout prior to the game against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on September 17, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The MLB offseason's biggest questions were answered at the winter meetings with the likes of Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg coming off the board, but plenty of free agents or potential trade candidates remain on the market.

Rendon left a gaping hole at third base in Washington, and the defending champion Nationals are rumored to be looking within the NL East for his replacement.

Elsewhere in the National League, the San Diego Padres reportedly want to discard one particular player as part of the process to secure their first winning season since 2010.

Meanwhile, a major trade in the American League on Sunday between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers could change plans Cleveland may have had for another one of its stars.

Below is a closer look at these three rumors.


Francisco Lindor More Likely to Stay in Cleveland

The Indians gave up two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Corey Kluber in a trade with Rangers, and that may have made them less apt to part with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor.

"Chances for a Lindor trade, likely never great to begin with, may have diminished a bit further after Kluber contract was dealt," MLB Network's Jon Heyman relayed, also noting that the trade allowed Cleveland to save "just about the whole amount owed" to Kluber.

Kluber is owed $17.5 million in 2020 and $18 million with a club option in 2021. 

Lindor is set to make $16.7 million in 2020 with his third arbitration year in 2021 and unrestricted free agency in 2022 should the Indians opt against extending him, per Spotrac.

The 26-year-old infielder was rumored to be pursued by the Los Angeles Dodgers in late October when MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the following:

"Sources say the Dodgers are expected to pursue a trade for Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor as one possible addition to an offense that managed only a .303 on-base percentage during this month's National League Division Series loss to the Nationals. ...

"Incumbent shortstop Corey Seager would become a trade candidate—though perhaps not to Cleveland—if talks between the Dodgers and Indians gain momentum."

The possible L.A.-Lindor pairing resurfaced during the winter meetings:

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

The Los Angeles #Dodgers and Cleveland #Indians continue to be engaged in serious trade talks for Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, with Cleveland seeking a package of Dodgers prospects including Gavin Lux and Dustin May.

Should Cleveland decide to hold on to Lindor for now, the July 31 trade deadline still allows for a move to made if Lindor bolsters his trade value with a solid first half. 


Nationals Shifting Focus to Josh Donaldson

Washington bid farewell to All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, who decided to sign a seven-year contract worth $245 million with the Los Angeles Angels last week. The defending champions have now reportedly circled free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson as Rendon's preferred replacement.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Friday that the Nats were "actively engaged" with Donaldson and were aware "it will take a four-year deal to sign him." 

Heyman provided an update Saturday: 

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Nats still appear focused on Josh Donaldson. Question is whether they go to 4th year. Braves seen as main competitor now, though several others have been involved. Washington plan B/C could be Maikel Franco. Could also look at Kyle Seager.

Donaldson was named the 2019 National League Comeback Player of the Year with a .259/.379/.521 slash line, 37 home runs and 94 RBI in 155 games for the Atlanta Braves. The 34-year-old had missed all but 52 contests in 2018 with Toronto and Cleveland due to shoulder inflammation and a calf injury.

The three-time All-Star signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Braves in Nov. 2018, but his market has been revived one year later. According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, interested teams include the Braves, Nats, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins.

More from Rosenthal: 

"All things being equal, Donaldson's preference is to return to the Braves, according to sources with knowledge of his thinking. But in free agency, all things are not necessarily equal. This contract almost certainly will be Donaldson's last big deal, and he is seeking the largest possible guarantee, sources say.

Lacking better solutions, the Rangers, Braves and Nationals would appear to be the teams under the most pressure to sign Donaldson, who hit 37 homers with a .900 OPS last season and finished second among third basemen in defensive runs saved. A source said Starlin Castro and the non-tendered Maikel Franco are among the Nationals' backup plans; either would represent a significant comedown from Donaldson."

The Braves have made it clear for months now that they want Donaldson back. Most recently, manager Brian Snitker chimed in at the winter meetings:

FOX Sports: Braves @FOXSportsBraves

Brian Snitker: "I'd love to have Josh (Donaldson) back." #WinterMeetings https://t.co/f9q1KyFqfv

However, general manager Alex Anthopoulos made the situation a little more fluid by telling reporters the club is "exploring our options at third base."

From the Nats' perspective, Donaldson is the best available free-agent third baseman to soften the blow of Rendon's departure. 


Padres' No. 1 Goal Is Trading Wil Myers 

San Diego is not expected to add "a huge free agent," according to Heyman, but the Padres still "are building a team to win in 2020."

The Athletic's Jayson Stark reported that Wil Myers is not seen as a piece the Padres want to build with:

"For one thing, other clubs report that the Padres have been working to find a way to trade Wil Myers, even if it means attaching prospects to make the pieces of that trade fit together. Myers has three years, $68.5 million, remaining on the six-year contract he signed before the 2017 season, back when they viewed him as a future face of their franchise.

"Now he's coming off a year in which he hit just .239/.321/.418. And he's being crowded out of regular playing time on an overstuffed roster. So one rival exec said of a Myers deal: 'That's the No. 1 goal.'"

The Padres roster looks much different than when Myers was acquired from Tampa Bay in a December trade ahead of the 2015 season. With All-Star Manny Machado at third base, World Series champion Eric Hosmer at first base and one of the game's most promising young players in Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, Myers has become obsolete.

Since arriving in San Diego, Myers has posted a .249/.328/.447 slash line with 95 home runs and 289 RBI. The 2011 third-round pick started 147 games and 153 games at first base in 2016 and 2017, respectively, before the team signed Hosmer in Feb. 2018. Last season, Myers appeared 134 times (101 starts) in the outfield. 

The Padres will likely need to attach prospects in order to unload Myers, and MLB Pipeline provided a list of prospects the franchise has to offer.