Francisco Lindor Says Indians Can Afford Him in FA: 'It's a Billion-Dollar Team'October 1, 2020
Following the Cleveland Indians' sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees in their AL Wild Card Series on Wednesday, shortstop Francisco Lindor faces an uncertain future with the club as free agency looms after 2021.
The four-time All-Star carried a $17.5 million salary in 2020 that will only increase via arbitration next year, and trade speculation has lurked for some months.
When asked if Cleveland could afford to keep him around, Lindor was blunt.
"It's a billion-dollar team," he said, according to Zack Meisel of The Athletic.
Lindor also brought up the league's new $3 billion TV deal when he was asked about the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 26-year-old, who was drafted by the Indians with the eighth overall pick out of high school in 2011, had a quiet season in 2020. He hit .258 with 27 RBI and eight home runs, appearing in each of the team's 60 games.
The Indians' payroll has steadily decreased over the past few seasons, with an estimated $99 million for the full 2020 season compared to $140 million in 2018, per FanGraphs.
In 2017, after his first All-Star appearance the year before, Lindor turned down a $100 million contract extension.
Despite the obvious financial constraints that may lead Lindor to leave Cleveland, he said he's not surprised that trade rumors are flying.
"It's not a surprise," he said on a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. "It is what it is. You can't cover the sky with one hand. It makes sense. It's the reputation the organization has. It is what it is. On the other hand, I can't control the future. I can't control the moves this organization makes."
Over the past year, the club traded starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger in an attempt to retool, and Lindor may face a similar fate.