Francisco Lindor is a 300 million dollar player, nobody is denying that. He’s one of the MLB’s most talented players and arguably the best shortstop too. He’s been the face of baseball in Cleveland ever since he came on to the scene back in 2015 and is on the cusp of getting the money he wants and unfortunately, it might not be in Cleveland.
The Frankie contract saga has lingered ever since he turned down a 100 million dollar contract back in 2017. It has fractured the fan base as one of the Indians’ all-time best players will soon walk out the door in free agency. The animosity against Indians ownership has been palpable and definitely understandable; meanwhile, Paul Dolan has been tone-deaf to the situation and has paid for it over these last two years. It all could be avoidable if each side said the right things to the media. It would just be a player pricing himself out.
I know what you are thinking: “look at the Dolan apologist, defending a billionaire who’s cheap and doesn’t get the everyday fan.” I get it, I don’t want to rehash every argument on sports radio and on Twitter. As a fan of this team and baseball itself, this is the reality of many other small-market teams, it’s not just us. The MLB has an archaic system. That means with no salary cap, small-market clubs are handicapped, while teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers can freely spend with little to no repercussions.
Even though the MLB has implemented the luxury tax, (Which is a joke in of itself) the bigger market teams aren’t penalized as much as one would think. Big market teams are able to pay top dollar, swallow bad contracts and still build competitive teams. If your reading this you’re probably yelling at me saying, “how is this fair?!” Well, it isn’t and that is the problem.
Back to Frankie, the reason that 300 million dollars won’t solve this issue is that it’ll be a hollow victory. If history has anything to say about small-market teams and huge contracts, it isn’t pretty. A recent example is former catcher Joe Mauer’s contract, it hindered the Twins for years and it wasn’t until he retired that that they got back to contending.
More than likely though, if Lindor is given what he wants from under Dolans Mattress, it’ll only be turned into another team’s problem. Look at the situation with 3rd Baseman Nolan Arenado, he got paid 8 years, 260 million back in 2019 and he is now asking to get traded because the Colorado Rockies are hamstrung by his contract and can’t put a team around him one year later. These are the possible realities of paying Francisco Lindor, it either delays the inevitable or the team suffers while the player declines rapidly. There is rarely ever wiggle room.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t pay Frankie, I am being as realistic about the situation. We’ve been lucky to see a player like Frankie at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, but the MLB payroll system is cruel and probably never changing. Francisco Lindor is not an anomaly, it’s a symptom of a problem that plagues the baseball world. You can get mad at Paul Dolan, scream until the end of time, raise pitchforks in hand, and stand outside his house chanting pay Frankie; however, until baseball changes its economic system complaints are futile.
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