The Indians are in a weird place right now as a franchise. In theory, they should be competitive in the AL Central over the next couple of seasons where they still remain among the more talented rosters in the division even with the improvements that the Twins and White Sox have made recently.
However, they are also a franchise that has several young players that are getting more and more expensive and the team has long been adverse to significant payroll spending. Throughout the offseason, the team has shown a willingness to move any of the players on their roster that are making significant money. There has even been rumblings that they would (and maybe should) move their star infielder Francisco Lindor. While recent days have seen that chatter die down a bit as the Indians have made it sound like they would prefer to part with other pieces before Lindor, that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from continuing to swirl and that now officially includes the Braves.
Source: #Braves, #Indians have not discussed Francisco Lindor in trade talks to any substantive extent. This is noteworthy, as Atlanta is one of a handful of teams with the prospects to satisfy Cleveland’s high asking price. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 9, 2019
The Braves are a logical team to think about in terms of hypothetical trade partners for Lindor simply because they have the prospect pool (particularly pitching) to potentially make a deal happen. While the Braves do have an incumbent shortstop in Dansby Swanson whose spot doesn’t seem to be the highest priority to possibly upgrade (although not the lowest, either), Lindor is one of the better players in baseball and would immediately make a Braves roster that will already be in contention even better.
However, there are some problems with this scenario. One, as Morosi points out, it doesn’t look like the Braves are going down that road very much so far. This makes sense as they currently don’t have a third baseman and their resources may just be better served to solve that problem rather than swing for Lindor at this point in the offseason. There is also the matter of the price that Cleveland is asking for Lindor who already is likely to get more than $16 million in arbitration this coming season and significantly the following season. Committing that kind of money in addition to the very, very substantial cost in prospects (which it sounds like is what it would take) would make any team pause before going after him.
With that, we have the first actual Braves mention from the Winter Meetings (other than the daily “the Braves and other teams are interested in Josh Donaldson because of course they are” rumors). One can assume that this won’t be the last.