MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Francisco Lindor, Jackie Bradley Jr., More

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2020

Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor bats during an exhibition baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The MLB season hasn't even begun yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with a shortened 60-game schedule, the trade deadline will be here before you know it.

So which players could be on the move?

The most obvious place to start is Cleveland's Francisco Lindor. As Mark Feinsand of MLB.com wrote, "A Lindor trade feels inevitable, though it remains to be seen whether that will happen before Aug. 31 or sometime this offseason."

Lindor, 26, is one of the best shortstops in baseball. In 2019 he hit .284 with 32 homers, 74 RBI, 101 runs and 22 stolen bases, excellent numbers for the position. But with Lindor reportedly wanting to hit unrestricted free agency in 2022—thus creating the risk that Cleveland could lose him for nothing—he's become a popular player in trade rumors.

Keith Britton @KeithBritton86

.@keithlaw on @BullandFox on #Indians - Lindor: "What I've actually heard...they would like to pay him, but he won't even entertain contract extension offers. Absolutely his right to do that. They've tried to have those conversations...there just hasn't been a negotiation at all"

Keith Britton @KeithBritton86

.@keithlaw on @BullandFox more on #Indians - Lindor: "I personally think, knowing him and knowing who his representative is, they just want to go to free agency. My understanding is, the team was willing to talk extension with him and he just said 'I'm going to free agency.'"

Dealing for him this season and potentially getting two postseasons with him before free agency would be the logical move for any suitor. But Cleveland isn't going to let him go for cheap, given his superstar status. The game of chicken Cleveland finds itself playing is maximizing his trade value, something it might not accomplish if it holds onto him for all of this season.

The seemingly smart play would be dealing him immediately and getting maximum return. Unless a bidding war breaks out, though, teams won't come with their best offers out of the gate. So for Cleveland, timing is everything.

In other words, stay tuned. Just like we've been doing for the past year.

Tom Withers @twithersAP

Lindor not focused on future: "I was just looking forward to the day I came back to Cleveland and be a part of this fine organization that we have. I haven’t really thought about what’s going to happen after this year or the middle of this year or next season to be honest.

Feinsand also mentioned Jackie Bradley Jr. as a player worth watching, noting that his "name was mentioned as a trade possibility all winter, though he and the Red Sox ultimately settled on an $11 million salary in his final year of arbitration."

The Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts and David Price this offseason and will be without the injured Chris Sale, meaning they could become sellers this season in an effort to retool for future campaigns. If that happens and they enter "seller's mode," Feinsand noted that Bradley "could be a solid addition for any contender in need of outfield help."

The 30-year-old offered a mixed bag in 2019, hitting just .225 but adding 21 homers, 62 RBI and 69 runs. He wouldn't be the sexiest addition, but he'd add a bit of pop to an outfield for teams with that need.

Less high profile is Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Robbie Ray, who Feinsand noted "has been a fixture on the trade-rumor market for well over a year, but now that he's headed for free agency at the end of the season, a trade could very well happen if Arizona gets off to a bad start in 2020."

Ray, 28, went 12-8 with 4.43 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 235 strikeouts in 174.1 innings last season (33 starts), setting career highs in strikeouts and starts and tying his career high in innings. He would be a solid addition as a middle-of-the-rotation stopgap who won't break the bank given his reasonable salary.

Granted, if the Diamondbacks hit the ground running and compete for a postseason spot, that point will be moot. But Ray is a pitcher worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline nears.