Lindor, Indians continue extension talks

'Nothing has made sense yet. It’s early still,' says 4-time All-Star

February 17th, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- explained why he and the Indians haven’t been able to agree to an extension at Tribe Fest at the beginning of the month, and now he’s making sure that everyone knows his preference is to remain in Cleveland.

“I love it here,” Lindor said. “I mean, people are great. The city of Cleveland has been nothing but good to me. Why would I want to leave?”

Over the offseason, the Indians' All-Star shortstop said that he was able to block out the trade rumors and keep an open mind about his future, considering that he knew he could’ve been moved at any point. But his mentality has become the exact opposite now that the season has arrived.

“My approach this year is winning here,” Lindor said. “I want to win here. I want to stay in Cleveland. This is home. I’m not playing to get traded or to 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.”

His words are far from disingenuous. When Lindor talks about Cleveland, he beams of pride and passion and truly appears to want to stay with the organization that drafted him in 2011. The Indians have reciprocated the feelings.

Now, it'll be up to the two parties to find a way to settle on a deal.

“It’s a really hard situation,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “It’s not because of a lack of desire on our part or on Francisco’s part. But more when you look at the economics of baseball and the realities of building championship teams in a small market, it gets really tough. The interest is there. The desire is there, on both sides, to try to get something done. Whether or not that’s possible, we just don’t know.”

But Lindor believes it is possible.

“If the negotiations or whatever make sense, it’s gonna happen,” Lindor said. “If it makes sense for both sides, it’s gonna happen. If not, it’s not gonna happen. God has a plan. I believe in what he’s got for me and that’s it, man ... I have shown how much I want to be here. So has the team. It’s a matter of things making sense.”

For things to make sense, the Indians must be able to meet Lindor’s asking price while also leaving enough financial bandwidth to build a contending club around him.

“That’s the biggest challenge,” Antonetti said. “… That’s ultimately what Francisco would want, too. He doesn’t want to sign in Cleveland long term and have that compromise our ability to build a championship team. We’re trying to work through that and we continue to work at it.”

The conversations have been ongoing between the two parties, but both recognize there is a point -- like early March, according to Lindor -- where those discussions have to be put on hold so that the focus can switch back to the field.

“We’ve talked, but nothing has been concrete,” Lindor said. “Nothing has made sense yet. It’s early still.”

When Lindor decides that it’s time to revert his full attention back to the field, he said that he won’t be worried about being traded ahead of the July 31 Trade Deadline, over next offseason or even about free agency. All the 26-year-old wants to think about is winning a championship in Cleveland.

“It’s crazy, because in ’16, it seemed like [our window to win] was [so] small and then all of a sudden we made it [to the World Series] and the window got really big,” Lindor said.

“The front office has done a great job of putting guys in the right spot that the window doesn’t seem like it’s closing. It definitely got smaller. The window was really big in ’16 after we made it to the World Series and then it got bigger and it seems like we’re at the midpoint. We’re not at the highest. We’re not at the lowest.”

While the club's payroll has decreased over the past two seasons and division rivals like the White Sox and Twins continue to improve their rosters, Lindor believes that the Indians are in a good spot to prove that they can still be a contending team in 2020.

“It’s going to be a fun season,” Lindor said. “It’s going to go back to our motto: Underrated and then all of a sudden, everybody loves Cleveland. It’s going to be a good year. I’m excited. I can’t wait to show the world what we have in our city. I’m looking forward to it. I love telling doubters to shut up.”