CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Francisco Lindor appeared at Tribe Fest on Saturday to meet and greet with the fans.
Those fans cannot help but wonder how many more of these Lindor will be around for.
The 26-year old shortstop is one of the best players in the game and will be a free agent after the 2021 season.
It is assumed the Indians will not be able to pay him what it will take to keep him, and nothing Lindor said on Saturday will change that assumption.
“We want to make sure we get paid for a long time. We want to be in this game for a long time,” Lindor said when asked about players like himself and new Angels slugger Anthony Rendon seeking huge multiyear contracts. “Do I feel like when I am 37 I’m going to be down with my playing level? No, I don’t think so. The way I work, the way we all work, I don’t think my production numbers will be down just because I’m 37.”
Rendon came up because he left the Washington Nationals after 2019 to sign with the Angels for seven years and $245-million.
Lindor was asked if that kind of contract would be acceptable to him.
“I’m sure Rondon got a perfect deal for him. Same thing with Gerritt Cole," said Lindor. “They signed it because they thought it was the right amount of money for them. Is there a right number for me right now? I don’t really think about it.”
Cole was signed by the Yankees for nine years and $324 million.
It is not realistic to believe that Lindor has never thought about a number that would make him sign on the dotted line, but it is completely realistic to not expect him to reveal his number.
Obviously, the Indians have not hit that number yet.
Saying he thinks he can play until age 37, maybe longer, and not have his production drop, might be the first tip of his hand as to what kind of contract he is looking for.
Lindor turned 26 in November, so he will play the entire 2020 season at 26.
A 12-year contract would take him till age 37.
Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million dollar deal with Philadelphia after the 2018 season.
That might be the model Lindor is seeking.
The All-Star shortstop is one of the best players in the game, and he knows it.
“If you had one player to start a franchise, who would it be? Five players to start a franchise with?" When asked if he meant that he was one of those players, with a huge smile he said “of course!”
He’s not wrong either.
Moments after suggesting he wanted to be well paid deep into his 30′s, he changed tune a bit. “I’m not money driven. I’m championship driven,” he said. “That’s what I want. Wherever I go, I want to win. That is my mission. It has nothing to do with the money, it has nothing to do with the years, it has nothing to do with who I like or don’t like, it has to do with championships.”
The more Lindor talked about his future the harder it was to nail down exactly what he wants.
The Indians, while never signing a player to one of the largest deals in baseball history, are usually successful at getting players to sign contracts a year or two into their career that buy up their arbitration years and one, sometimes two, years of free agency.
They were never able to get Lindor to do that early in his career.
That suggests he has known for a long time the type of contract he would be able to receive and wanted to get to it as quickly as possible.
The way to do that is not sign anything that buys out a year of free agency, in his case, any contract that covers 2022.
Because of this clock ticking down to his free agency, the Indians have entertained offers for him from other teams.
They were never going to trade him just to trade him, but if a team calls, you at least have a conversation.
Those conversations turned into full blown trade rumors.
Was he disappointed by hearing his name out there? “No, no reason to be disappointed. I understand it’s a business."
He absolutely does.
If he does want the last dollar, he will not get it in Cleveland.
What about a hometown discount? “How much did Rendon get?" he asked. “Was that a discount?”