Earlier this week, Francisco Lindor was adamant that his preference for the future is to remain with the Cleveland Indians.
He won't, however, be taking a hometown discount to do so.
In a piece for The Athletic on Friday, Jayson Stark examined the conundrum Cleveland faces in attempting to keep Lindor past the end of his current contract with the team in 2021. And while the 26-year-old Lindor reiterated that it's his preference to remain with the Indians, he also revealed that he won't be leaving money on the table to make it happen.
“When somebody talks about a discount, I immediately say: “If you were from … Cleveland and they offer you a job downtown, would you take less money because you’re in Cleveland? No. No. Like, no," Lindor told Stark. "So discounts? No. That don’t exist.”
Without Lindor doing so, it's hard to imagine a feasible path in which he remains in Cleveland beyond 2021.
While the Indians would obviously prefer to keep their 4-time All-Star, the realities of baseball's economic structure make that difficult to do. Considering that Lindor is likely in line to receive one of baseball's biggest contracts -- Stark estimates that Manny Machado's 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres will be the baseline for Lindor's next contract -- it will be difficult for Cleveland to both re-sign their franchise shortstop at his market value and field a competitive team.
Indians president Chris Antonetti is obviously aware of the challenge he faces in regards to Lindor.
“That’s the biggest challenge. It’s not the desire. I think Francisco’s been pretty clear about how he feels. I think we’re pretty clear on what we would like to see happen," Antonetti said. "But is there that right value in which we can extend Francisco and still build a championship team around him? Because that’s really what we’re seeking to do.
"And that’s ultimately what Francisco would want too. He wouldn’t want to sign in Cleveland long-term and have that compromise our ability to build a championship team.”
With two years of team control remaining on his contract, the Indians have between now and the end of the 2021 season to find a solution. Among Cleveland's options are trading Lindor, re-signing him or watching him walk for nothing in return.
Whatever happens between now and then though, it won't be because both sides didn't try.
"We are open to examining a variety of different structures and I think Francisco is as well and again, we want to be creative to try to find overlap, if at all possible," Antonetti said. "I don’t whether or not that can happen, but it won’t be for a lack of desire or interest or effort.”