The Cleveland Indians are in a tough spot with Francisco Lindor.

Francisco Lindor is no stranger to having his name mentioned in trade rumors and the Indians All-Star shortstop shouldn’t expect that to stop soon.

Lindor signed a one-year, $17.5 million deal in arbitration this offseason and will be in his third arbitration year at the end of this season, which could see his salary soar past $20 million before he will be a free agent in 2022. And the reason he’s been in trade rumors for the last year or so is because of the belief that the Indians will be unable to sign their former first-round pick to a long-term extension.

In a normal baseball season, players in a contract year unlikely to sign a long-term extension are often the hottest names on the trade market. Trading players could be complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but should the Indians consider trading Lindor or keep him for the 60-game schedule and try to win a World Series?

What should the Indians do with Francisco Lindor?

If I was running the Indians, my first order of business would be trying to lock Lindor in for a multi-year extension of more than five years and around $30 million per year. This may be the starting point for negotiations with Lindor wanting something closer to eight years and that could be too much of a financial commitment for the Indians to make.

After exhausting all options to extend Lindor to keep him in an Indians uniform throughout his prime years, I would then consider the option of trading him and adding some elite prospects to supplement the farm system and inject some youth on the roster. More importantly, for the Indians, it would give them some financial freedom and security to pursue multiple free agents that would cost less than what paying Lindor would cost.

It’s never easy to stomach trading away a home-grown superstar like Lindor but if the Indians can’t lock him up, they have to make sure they get something for him before they lose him and get nothing but a compensatory draft pick in return.

Next: Cleveland’s most important player

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