Next week the major league baseball rosters can expand to 40 active players, and the Cleveland Indians will be faced with a very difficult decision, one we think they will make a mistake with.
Their prized prospect, SS Francisco Lindor, could be called up to the big leagues, but we think the Tribe will pass on that at this time and will cite having to add him to the 40 man roster and that he wouldn’t receive enough playing time to justify the move.
In our opinion, the real reason is the Indians do not want to start the service clock on the prized prospect by calling him up now. They are also hoping that Lindor struggles a little in spring training next year, so they can justify not bringing him up until the time has passed so he doesn’t receive a full year service in 2015.
We believe that is shortsighted thinking, and Lindor should make his MLB debut on Monday afternoon against the Tigers at Progressive Field. Why? Because he makes the Tribe better right now.
In 121 games combined at Akron and Columbus, the switch-hitter is hitting .278 with 10 HR and 60 RBI, stealing 28 bases. He has had contact issues at AAA, striking out 31 times in 144 at bats, walking just six times.
However, up until his time at Columbus, he has had a very good strikeout to walk ratio.
Defensively, Lindor is rated as an excellent defender and could combine with Jose Ramirez to field a dynamic duo with the glove up the middle for the rest of the year and going forward.
Could Lindor be ruined by coming up to the bigs and failing? Of course, anything is possible, but the folks at Baseball Prospectus feel the 20-year-old’s make up is off the charts.
Look at his progress at AAA. He’s hitting .278 in the state capital, but to get there he overcame a slow start.
As for playing time, we have a perfect solution.
Right now, Chris Dickerson is still receiving an inordinate amount of at bats with the Tribe, and Terry Francona could easily move the current DH, Zach Walters to RF, and give Jason Kipnis some DH at bats (before moving his to another spot), in order to give Lindor some at bats.
Therefore, the question would be could Lindor do more with the bat than Dickerson, who has hit .179 since the All Star Game. Based on that figure, we are pretty sure he could.
He and Ramirez would also add some much-needed speed to the Cleveland lineup.
As for the service time issue, do what Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria and Houston did with Jonathan Singleton. That would be signing him to a long-term deal right away to take him out of the arbitration process and a little beyond. He would have to be interested if offered a 8-10 year deal before playing a month in the major leagues.
The added bonus would be finding out if he can play in the big leagues now, allowing the team to make the appropriate plans in the winter. We don’t doubt he can, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.
It will also create some buzz around town too. Baseball fans have been waiting for the shortstop to arrive and it may put a few extra people in the seats at Progressive Field with Lindor’s debut.
The guess here is the Tribe will take the safe route with one of the game’s best prospects. That’s the path they normally take.