CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – One day after Francisco Lindor addressed his future with the Cleveland Indians, infielder Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
Does the richest free-agent contract in American sports history affect Lindor's future with the Indians?
Most would say "yes" and "Frankie is as good as gone." But let's look at this situation rationally.
Machado, 26, is a four-time All-Star who has shown ability to play both shortstop and third base. He has hit at least 33 home runs in four straight seasons. Machado was the best free agent available this offseason. He posted a career-high .905 OPS in 2018, finishing with a .297/.367/.538 slash line.
Lindor will be 28 years old by the time he hits free agency after the 2021 season. He's on pace to do a lot of the things Machado has done. He’s a three-time All-Star who has played in at least 158 games over the past three seasons. He’s been a great defensive shortstop and hit at least 33 home runs in each of the last two years. He posted a .277/.352/.519 slash line in 2018, good for a career-high .871 OPS.
Lindor is going to get paid a lot of money, but there's a long way to go. Lindor has to continue to stay healthy. He needs to show the power numbers are here to stay. Machado posted a higher average and on-base percentage while playing both shortstop and third base.
There's no reason for Lindor to sign an extension with the Indians now unless it's the same offer Machado agreed to. The front office shouldn't want to do a deal like that now, knowing Lindor is under team control for the next three seasons. If he continues to play at a high level, he will get a contract similar to Machado's.
Machado's megadeal also helped set the bar for Boston Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts, who can become eligible for free agency after the 2020 season, one year before Lindor.
"I mean, I think we're different players, so obviously it's going to be a different time, so I don't want to speak on anybody else's free agency," the reigning American League MVP said in Fort Myers, Fla. on Tuesday. "I've just gotta worry about my own."
The Padres aren't a big-market team. San Diego's payroll is always around or below $100 million. They were able to sign Machado to a $300 million contract. Maybe Cleveland will be in a similar situation. The Indians only have $12 million on the books for 2022. Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez have club options that would raise payroll to $30 million. That would be the first year of Lindor's new contract.
There's a path to Lindor staying in Cleveland past 2021, but there are also plenty of things he needs to do to secure the contract Machado received on Tuesday. Playing great between now and then not only helps him earn a new contract, it helps the Indians win games.
By James Rapien with Boston's WEEI.com