Leaving Lindor Off September Roster a Dis-Service to Future

Before Carlos Carrasco tossed a four-hit shutout or the Cleveland Browns mounted a 24-point comeback yesterday, Indians manager Terry Francona said something that would have made news on most days.

Francisco Lindor will not be promoted from Triple-A Columbus this season.

“I don’t know that you need to bring a kid up, especially when he’s not going to play,” Francona told the media on Sunday. “I’m not sure that’s terribly helpful.”

Lindor—the Indians top prospect since the day he was drafted in 2011—is the Indians shortstop of the future and probably near future. Lindor hit .276, with 11 home runs, 75 runs scored and 28 stolen bases this season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. The 20-year old Lindor is the youngest player in Triple-A as the Clippers’ season came to an end on Saturday. The Indians and Francona feel the jump to the big league level would be too much for Lindor, especially since he would not play much in the final three weeks of the season.

It’s the exact reason Lindor should be promoted.

Francona is right, Jose Ramirez has earned the right to finish the season as the Indians’ shortstop. Ramirez isn’t the shortstop of the future, but he could establish a role with the Indians at second base or third base for 2015, become a super utility player like Mike Aviles, or be a trade piece this winter to help improve the Indians roster. Despite Ramirez’s fine play in the last month, he’s not going to supplant Lindor as the shortstop of the future.

Lindor is an outstanding defender, with potential to hit in either the first or second spot of the batting order. He models his game after Roberto Alomar and it’s a very fair comparison to the style and potential Lindor can become. When the Indians begin building their roster for 2015, improving the team’s defense will have to be one of the major goals. Lindor’s insertion at shortstop will make the Indians a stronger team on defense immediately. When the Indians head to Goodyear next February, Lindor will be in contention to win the starting shortstop job.

While he may play sparingly, in the next three weeks Lindor would have the chance to workout with the team, learn from veterans and travel. All would be important parts to his development before potentially being entrusted with a starting job next season. Instead, if Lindor is the Opening Day shortstop in 2015, it will be his Major League debut.

Lindor is quite humble and grounded for 20-years old. His maturity as a person makes him as ready as any player for the big league stage. Whenever he gets his chance, he’ll be ready to handle the responsibility. His humility would also allow him to accept a small role if he were promoted this September. No one wants to win more than Lindor and he’d accept any role he was given.

What Francona didn’t say, is likely one of the major reasons the Indians don’t want to promote Lindor is the 21 days of MLB service time he would accumulate if he were promoted. That service time would be 21 days closer to arbitration and 21 days closer to free agency. It’s probably not Lindor’s role or development that ended his season when the Clippers lost Saturday afternoon at Durham, but instead the Indians’ goal to control him as long as possible.

If Lindor is the player the Indians feel he will be, service time should not be an issue. He’s a player the Indians will want to sign long-term, quickly, and buy out those years of arbitration and free agency. The organization has known Lindor’s work ethic, drive and humility for three years. They know he’s a player they want to build around long into the future. He’s a good investment for now and into the future.

Guarding Lindor’s service time may be one of the few mistakes the Indians have made in their top prospects development.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. ‘…in the next three weeks Lindor would have the chance to workout with the team, learn from veterans and travel.’

    He doesn’t have to be on the 40-man to do any of that. If he’s not really going to play anyway, the Tribe could still bring him in to experience being part of the ‘squad’ without burning any service time.

  2. Another consideration is he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, allowing the Indians time to use that roster spot to find someone the help improve the team for next year as it is most likely Lindor will start the season at AAA next year.

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