CLEVELAND — As the Cleveland Indians work their way through the offseason, there is already a report that four-time All-Star Francisco Lindor won't be on the roster by the time the club opens the 2021 season.
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USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale wrote on Thursday: "Cleveland, strapped for money, intend to trade All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor by opening day, several rival teams have been informed. Lindor earned $17.5 million last season and is projected to earn about $21 million in salary arbitration in his final year before free agency."
During an end-of-season press conference following the Tribe's loss to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, Indians president Chris Antonetti admitted to reporters that the team's financial situation was in peril amid a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The losses in the industry and to us are staggering. I think on an industry level, it's in the billions of dollars and on the team level it's tens of millions of dollars in losses that are greater than what we were expecting to start the year. That has a huge impact on the league and on any individual team, including us. What exactly that means? We're not quite sure other than we are in a worse financial position today than we were eight months ago," Antonetti said last month.
Lindor acknowledged after the postseason that he may have played his final game for the club, but also made it clear he believes that the Indians -- who Forbes has valued at $1.15 billion -- can afford to keep him.
The two sides were in discussions on a long-term deal in March prior to the pandemic, but broke off negotiations. Lindor told Jayson Stark of The Athletic that he wouldn't be willing to give Cleveland -- or anyone else -- a discount on his next contract. The Indians, meanwhile, have insisted that they would only re-sign Lindor if they could also afford to build a contending a roster around him.
The 26-year-old Lindor has not only played in four All-Star games, but has won two Gold Gloves for his fielding at shortstop and two Silver Slugger awards for his performance at the plate. His effervescent personality along with his work ethic on the field has made him one of the faces of the Indians franchise since arriving in Cleveland in 2015.
Editor's Note: The below interview aired in July of 2020 but was recorded during Spring Training prior to the pandemic.