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Can Cleveland Indians afford to give Francisco Lindor massive contract extension?

Will the Cleveland Indians be able to sign Francisco Lindor to a long-term contract extension, and what might that deal look like?

CLEVELAND — Will the Cleveland Indians be able to sign All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor to a long-term contract extension?

That question will be answered soon enough, but according to reports, the Indians are negotiating with Lindor and his representation on a potential long-term contract extension that could be well into the nine-figure range.

The fact that Lindor is open to re-signing with the Indians should be a good sign for the club.

“If the negotiations make sense, it’s going to happen,” Lindor said. “The team is not broke. The league is not broke. There’s money. If it makes sense for both sides, it’s going to happen. If not, it’s not going to happen.”

But if the Indians were able to extend Lindor, what would the financial structure of such a deal look like and could the team afford to spend on other talent to put around the All-Star infielder?

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Indians’ payroll situation

Currently, the Indians have 28 players on the 2020 payroll, which stands at $83.4 million, according to Spotrac.com The money spent on this year’s club is more than $57 million less than the 2018 team.

In 2021, the Indians have 20 players under contract for $59.4 million, and even with expected raises for several players in arbitration coming in the next few years, if the front office commits enough of the money cut from the payroll toward Lindor, they could be able to do build up the team around him.

As of now, the Indians have 15 players under contract for 2022 ($30 million) and 10 for 2023 ($13 million).

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Lindor’s asking price

Lindor is one of the brightest young talents in the game today, and there will be a high asking price.

For points of reference, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout has the most lucrative contract in MLB history, averaging $35.5 million a year, now through the 2030 season and fellow position players Bryce Harper (13 years, $330 million) and Giancarlo Stanton (13 years, $325 million) a.

Lindor is likely to command between $30 and $35 million per year over the next decade.

If past spending is any indication, that would mean the Indians would put more than 25 percent of their payroll into one player.

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Why worth it?

Lindor had another great season in 2019, as he belted 32 home runs, 40 doubles and two triples with 74 runs batted in and 101 runs scored despite missing the first 19 games while working through calf and ankle injuries suffered in a preseason individual workout and spring training, respectively.

Lindor hit .284 with a split of .335/.518/.854 on-base, slugging and on-base-plus-slugging percentages in 2019.

In 2018, Lindor led the Indians with 183 hits and 42 doubles, was tied for third in triples, third in runs batted in and second with 38 home runs. Lindor set a club record for lead-off home runs, as he started nine games with round-trippers in 2018.

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Through 717 games over his first four-plus years with the Indians, Lindor collected 835 hits, including 178 doubles, 15 triples and 130 home runs, with 384 runs batted in, 478 runs scored and 260 walks drawn against 455 strikeouts.

“My approach is winning here,” Lindor said after the first full squad workout of spring training in Goodyear, Arizona Monday. “I want to win here. I want to stay here in Cleveland. This is home. I’m not playing to get traded or put myself in a good spot to get traded for a numerous amount of players. I’m playing to win. I want to win here.

“We have a great group of guys in the clubhouse, great coaches, and I want to spend the whole year with them and win with them. I want to bring a championship to the city. That’s what I’m focusing on.”

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