When it comes to the baseball hot stove, the Dodgers have been linked to just about every premium name out there. From pundits calling out Los Angeles as the new home of free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, to industry experts believing the club will pursue Gerrit Cole, the Dodgers are widely expected to make a big move this winter.
One of the biggest moves potentially on the board is a trade for Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. Moreover, Lindor was just the name that former MLB GM Jim Bowden was again talking about at The Athletic on Monday.
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) November 18, 2019
The insider notes that as much as Cleveland would love to hold on to Lindor, there is an understanding that “a quarter of their payroll going to one player is not a good formula for winning.” The four-time All-Star can’t be a free agent until the 2021-2022 off-season. He earned nearly $11M in 2019 and is projected to get a bump up to around $16.7M, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
With a trade being the best option to keep Cleveland competitive, and within their budget restraints in the coming years, Bowden identifies three potential trade possibilities.
Along with the Dodgers, the former GM lists the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies as trade partners. For LA, Bowden starts with the obvious elephant in the room… it takes two to tango. And that means that Andrew Friedman and company would need to part with a high profile prospect to get the talks started.
The Dodgers would have to include their top shortstop prospect, Gavin Lux, if they want to acquire Lindor in a trade, and that’s reportedly something they don’t want to do. To include Lux in a deal, they need to extend Lindor at the time of the trade. I don’t think Lux would get Lindor straight up, so LA would have to put one other solid prospect in the trade, like catcher Keibert Ruiz (who’s arguably expendable because of Will Smith).
Now, this is something that most Dodger fans don’t really want to think about, but in a trade involving Lindor — or even Mookie Betts from Boston — conversations start at Gavin Lux and add on from there. Lux was LA’s minor league player of the year in 2019, and someone they were steadfast in holding on to at last season’s trade deadline.
Additionally, he’s a shortstop and the Indians would need a replacement for Lindor at the position.
The Kluber Connection
Now buckle up, because Bowden wasn’t done.
If LA is fortunate enough to make the trade without Lux, then it almost assuredly would have to replace him in the trade with either outfielder Alex Verdugo or pitcher Tony Gonsolin. This type of deal could also get expanded to include starting pitcher Corey Kluber in the trade going to Los Angeles.
Kluber to LA is a move that peppered headlines much of last off-season. The 33 year-old, two-time AL Cy Young award winner missed much of the 2019 season with injuries. However, he was a 20-game winner as recently as 2017 and owns a lifetime 3.16 ERA with a 2.99 FIP over 9 seasons.
While it’s not ideal for the Dodgers to stock up on 30-something former Cy Young winners in the rotation, but a healthy and effective Kluber does fill another need the club has. A front-end arm to mix in with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Additionally, Kluber can be under team control through the 2021 season on two team options totaling $30.5M.
Acquiring the 3-time All-Star would effectively spell the end of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s time in LA.
While fans are clamoring for names like Rendon and Cole, an off-season haul of Lindor and Kluber may very well be labeled a win for the Dodgers. Moreover, the acquisition of Lindor allows the club to slide Corey Seager to third base — a position experts have called for since his debut — and Justin Turner to move to first base. A clear path would be paved for Max Muncy to take the lion’s share at second base, and for Cody Bellinger to resume his Gold Glove ways in the outfield.
However, at the cost of some mix of two or three of Lux, Ruiz, Gonsolin, and Verdugo, it would be a big hit to the farm system.