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Inbox: What's the latest Lindor buzz?

Beat reporter Mandy Bell answers questions from Cleveland fans
@MandyBell02
November 24, 2020

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ 40-man roster and coaching staff are set, so what’s left to figure out? Let’s take a look in this week’s Inbox:

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ 40-man roster and coaching staff are set, so what’s left to figure out? Let’s take a look in this week’s Inbox:

This could change, but the top two most intriguing potential trade partners right now where Francisco Lindor is concerned may be the Mets and Angels. The Mets have players like Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil and outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong that could be intriguing to the Indians and make a decent impact on the club and its farm system. An even better scenario could be finding a way to get the Angels to center a package around outfielder Jo Adell. Though the 21-year-old struggled in his first 38 career big league games last season, hitting .161 with a .478 OPS, the expectations for him are still through the roof. He was the Angels’ top prospect (according to MLB Pipeline) in 2019 and could be the missing outfield piece Cleveland has been searching for.

It’s hard to predict anything in an offseason that's following such an unprecedented year; however, the best guess is that the Hot Stove will take a while to heat up. It wouldn’t be surprising if it's 2021 before any potential Lindor trade occurs.

If Lindor gets traded, a shortstop could be included as a piece of the return package to bridge the gap until the Tribe can get its younger prospects to the big league level. The 2020 season may have thrown off the Indians' plans, considering their No. 2 prospect, Tyler Freeman, could’ve easily jumped from Class A to Triple-A if there would’ve been a Minor League season. From there, Freeman would’ve been more prepared to move up to the big league level at some point in '21. But after losing that year of development (though he was at the alternate training site), Cleveland may need to find someone to fill in at short in the meantime. The Tribe also has Gabriel Arias to keep an eye on and could absolutely use Yu Chang, if needed.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Nolan Jones, although I know that's probably not the most original opinion. There’s been so much buildup surrounding the 22-year-old and now that he’s finally on the 40-man roster, 2021 will be his time to debut. Even if he is in the outfield, Jones' bat could be a tremendous difference-maker in a lineup that desperately craved consistency last season (and only got it from José Ramírez).

Speaking of Jones and Ramírez ... The Indians considered moving Ramírez to the other side of the infield for a brief time last winter but ultimately decided against it. The third baseman is coming off a year during which he placed second in the American League MVP Award vote, and for a team that needs offense, there’s no need to risk putting any hurdles in his way. Jones continued to receive more repetitions in the outfield in the Fall League, which shows the Tribe’s hopes of getting him on the big league roster in '21 and the optimism in his athleticism to be able to make the move.

Considering Jones will likely get time in the outfield at some point next year, it seems less probable for the Indians to go after someone like Hunter Renfroe. The Indians would have Oscar Mercado, Daniel Johnson and Jones as young, controllable, inexpensive outfield options they have a lot of confidence in. Assuming the team tenders Tyler Naquin’s contract, he and Jordan Luplow would also be options to slot in as well. If that’s the case, the Tribe may not want to bring in yet another outfielder to the mix.

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti couldn’t have spoken more highly of Cesar Hernandez at the end of the season but made it clear a reunion would only happen if it were financially possible. If the goal is to cut down payroll as much as possible, Hernandez’s $6.25 million contract from last year may be more than the club would want to take on. Maybe a Lindor trade could give the Indians a little more financial flexibility, but at this point, the best guess would be less than a 50 percent chance of him coming back in 2021.

Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. will stay put for next season. Tribe manager Terry Francona said one of his biggest surprises of the offseason was that other clubs did not call for a chance to steal Alomar away after he seamlessly stepped in for Francona in 2020.

The Tribe finalized its 2021 coaching staff on Monday. DeMarlo Hale will replace bench coach Brad Mills, and everyone else will return.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.