Why it makes sense
While it seems like a move like this would be unlikely for the Rays, let’s take a moment to review some of the key points that would allow the front office to kick the idea around as a possibility.
The world knows the Indians are dumping salary and the leverage is with the rest of the league. The Indians didn’t get a ton for Kluber, but they got their salary relief. The biggest travesty for the Indians would be if they diminished the value of Lindor before moving him by reducing the amount of time left the other team gets.
If they turn him into a true rental then the Indians aren’t going to get near as much on the return. They have the incentive to move now. Two years still sounds like a long-term deal, especially to a team like the Rays.
Don’t think Lindor’s salary is too high for the Rays. We already know Sternberg said the ceiling is at $80 million, well Lindor would put us right at $80 million. Sternberg also said the Rays would spend $25 million on Rendon.
Some people think that assertion made Sternberg seem clueless about the market. What he was saying was they won’t overpay beyond their valuations. Charlie Morton was an incredible deal at $15 million per year and even though it was the largest free-agent contract ever given to a pitcher by the Rays, they jumped on it because they thought it was a great value. They are willing to spend in the right situations.
Their patience could be the very thing that leads the Rays to a World Championship. They just have to find the right deal in the right situation.
Lindor’s price tag could be the “right situation.” He’s one of the elite players in the game today. He’s well below market value. He could be the missing link for a team that won 96 games last season.
What is the right price for two years of one of the games’ best players at the beginning of his prime? The money is certainly right, but what prospects would have to be sent to Cleveland to make this happen?