Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
In a typical July, the Major League Baseball trade deadline rumors would be coming in at a high rate.
Although we have to wait an extra month until the 2020 trade deadline hits, there is some buzz across the league.
Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor may be the top target ahead of August 31. He should have plenty of suitors, and the Indians could try to maximize the return for a player headed for free agency after next season.
Another trade candidate might be New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman, who was acquired at the 2019 deadline from the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mets face plenty of stiff competition in the National League East, and if they are out of contention, they might look to offload the right-handed hurler.
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According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “a Lindor trade feels inevitable, though it remains to be seen whether that will happen before Aug. 31 or sometime this offseason.”
The intrigue of acquiring Lindor this summer is a team would have him under control for a year and a half.
Last season, Trevor Bauer and Stroman were two of the players brought in through trades for that length.
Lindor has one more arbitration year on his deal for 2021 before he comes an unrestricted free agent ahead of the 2022 campaign.
Most contenders would love to have the shortstop in their lineups, and if he becomes available, Lindor could have better numbers over a 60-game stretch than 2019 because of his shift to the No. 3 spot in the batting order.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona detailed his plans to put Cesar Hernandez and Jose Ramirez at No. 1 and No. 2 ahead of Lindor to Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes.
“I think we’re probably going to hit him third,” Francona said. “That would be my sneaking suspicion. We may end up lining up those four switch-hitters one, two, three, four.”
In his first 60 contests of 2019, Lindor hit .291 and earned an .897 OPS while hitting 12 home runs.
The dilemma Cleveland could face is whether to retain Lindor in an attempt to go after an American League Central crown and contend in the playoffs or let go of the shortstop in the middle of a pennant race.
The decision could come down to how strong the offers are, but that market likely will not come to fruition until teams see what they have on the field at the position.
Feinsand reported Stroman “won’t be traded if the Mets are in contention, but if New York falls behind in the NL East, anything could happen.”
The Mets are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals also expected to contend for the top spot.
A sluggish start could be a real possibility for the Mets, as they face Atlanta, the Boston Red Sox and Washington in their opening 13 games.
The only true break in the schedule before the August 31 trade deadline is three series with the Miami Marlins, who are expected to finish last in the NL East.
If the Mets struggle and he becomes available, Stroman may be an intriguing rental for a contender that does not have to use a ton of capital on his expiring contract.
Stroman went 10-13 for Toronto and the Mets in 2019 and posted a 4-2 mark after he was sent to New York.
New York shipped a pair of pitching prospects and cash considerations to Toronto to acquire the right-handed hurler, and it could get a similar return if teams are desperate to add starting pitching depth.
A team in search of a World Series title may benefit from Stroman’s services in September. He holds a 12-11 mark, and his highest monthly strikeout total is in September.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference. Contract information obtained from Spotrac.
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