Francisco Lindor had an inconsistent 2020 season with the Indians. (David Dermer)
The Cleveland Indians' 2020 season was a short and stressful one that ended with just two games in the postseason, and is being followed by an equally bad offseason due to their financial condition.
The team's economy has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of Indians coach Terry Francona remains a concern and the organization is considering a name change for the team.
As if that weren't enough, the Indians will have to decide if it's time to trade their star player, shortstop Francisco Lindor .
These are certainly tough times for the Indians, who made the postseason for the fourth time in the past five seasons but were swept away in the AL wild-card round by the New York Yankees.
He's one of the best players in the game, he's one of the best people in the game, he's one of the best ambassadors for the game
”Chris Antonetti / General Manager of the Indians
Now, they face tough decisions that will define the future of the club, starting with Lindor.
The Puerto Rican is one of the main stars of MLB, and is currently under contract with Cleveland for one more year.
The 26-year-old shortstop has repeatedly turned down several long-term offers from the team. For this reason, the team is forced to seriously consider trading him to remain a World Series contender or do nothing, and see him leave Cleveland as a free agent late next year.
Cleveland Indians president of operations Chris Antonetti said he has resigned himself to trading his star player.
“He's one of the best players in the game, he's one of the best people in the game, he's one of the best ambassadors for the game,” said Antonetti, who hopes to be compensated for the value he expects from Lindor.
The president of operations added that, in the course of recent seasons, the team has tried to reach an agreement with the Puerto Rican's agent, in which they can compensate Lindor as one of the best players in MLB, but they have not been successful. However, he stressed, if that is the case, building a team around shortstop will be difficult, and ultimately that's the most important thing.
“That's what we want and that's what Francisco wants: to have a championship in Cleveland. We still haven't been able to find that common ground, ”Antonetti said.
He also said he does not know if the team will negotiate with Lindor in the coming months.
“What happened, financially, with the pandemic, has caused various completely unexpected problems that affect planning for the future. So we haven't even understood what the outcome of this will be, ”Antonetti said.
Francisco Lindor is characterized by his contagious smile when he plays baseball. (Paul Sancya)
Lindor will likely have a deal worth more than $ 300 million if he becomes a free agent . The extension that the Puerto Rican wanted was already outside the price range that Cleveland offered, but now, with the financial crisis due to COVID-19, it will be impossible for the club to sign him.
The money lost from having no ticket sales, concessions, parking or corporate partnerships has been a massive blow that struggling Indians have been unable to sustain. Also, there is no guarantee that things will improve, significantly, in 2021.
Antonetti has not disclosed an approximate figure for the financial hit Cleveland suffered, but has said it is “tens of millions of dollars.”
“That puts us in a really difficult financial position that will take years to recover. It is a real loss of cash that we will have to borrow a large amount of money in order to finance it, ”said Antonetti.
Meanwhile, President of Operations and CEO Mike Chernoff expect Indians manager Terry Francona to be ready for the start of the 2021 season, after losing most of this year to health problems. . Francona, 61, was in only 14 games this season.
“He's starting to feel better and he's really confident that he'll be able to drive from the start next season,” Antonetti said.
So far, the team has made no decisions about the contract options of closer Brad Hand, first baseman Carlos Santana or wide receiver Roberto Perez. Nonetheless, Cleveland would like to extend the contract of second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who fitted in very well with the team in his first season.
Also, the name change of the organization is being discussed . The team's owner, Paul Dolan, announced last July that he would consider changing their name since 1915, after the NFL's Washington Football Team removed “Redskins” from their name.