Why it’s unlikely
$17 million this year and probably mid-$20’s next year in the final year of his arbitration. Those salary numbers may be a good value compared to the rest of the market but they are huge numbers for the Rays tiny payroll. They were last in the league last season and currently sit at roughly $62 million heading into 2020.
The Rays would have to give up young talent and prospects to get Lindor and the Rays covet their youthful, controllable talent. Kluber was traded for one average Major League player and one promising prospect. The Rangers got a two-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher at just $17.5MM – a steal compared to pitchers at the top of the market.
While it makes sense from a value standpoint, the Rays would have two players at the top of the payroll that would consume 41.25% of the entire budget. I’ve seen fans of other teams shouting from the mountain tops that they don’t want to give up prospects for a “two-year rental.” while I disagree with the notion that Lindor is a rental, I can understand the sentiment.
Adding Lindor would push the Rays’ salary cap right up to the maximum $80 million Stu Sternberg discussed at the winter meetings.
Just because Stu threw out an $80 million ceiling in a conversation about finding the right values, it doesn’t mean he’s really interested in hitting his head on that ceiling.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Rays have never opened a season with a payroll number that started with an eight.
Stu may have said the Rays could hit the $80 million mark but he also added that he was perfectly comfortable at $40 million if he could trade for the top ten prospects in baseball.
The whole idea is unlikely. I mean, can you imagine a world in which the Rays are involved in a blockbuster trade and they are the ones RECEIVING the star player?