Francisco Lindor
The Indians have no choice but to trade Francisco Lindor. When I say trade, I mean now. The alternative is much, much worse. (Paul Sancya/AP)

There have been three big names rumored to lead the trade market. Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, and Francisco Lindor. According to execs, they see a Mookie Betts trade as very unlikely. The same cannot be said for Bryant and Lindor who could very well be on the move this winter. The only difference is, the Cubs don’t have to trade Kris Bryant. The Indians have no choice but to trade Francisco Lindor.

I believe the Cubs should move Bryant. They also don’t have to. The Cubs have financial resources to keep him if they so choose. While they are dealing with financial constraints, the Cubs can make it work down the road. The Indians don’t have that same luxury. They still live under the existing realm that is Cleveland. That’s not changing. Cleveland doesn’t hand out $300 million contracts. That’s not a possibility.

It’s either trade Lindor now or lose him for nothing. Except, there is another layer here. The Indians shortstop has two years left of team control. The problem is his arbitration number will become prohibitive next year. Then we’re talking about an expensive rental who won’t command the trade value you think he does. This is the winter to move him.

This is when the Pirates waived the white flag on Gerrit Cole. Two years of control with arbitration salaries creeping towards scary expensive. Expensive rentals don’t command high prospect packages like they used to. Just ask the Orioles who got almost nothing for Manny Machado. The timing of the deal is right and Cleveland has no choice but to bite. The alternative is much, much worse.

Of course, you cannot mess up a Francisco Lindor trade. You have to do better than what the Pirates got for Gerrit Cole. This Indians team probably isn’t a World Series team with or without Lindor anyway. They missed the playoffs this past year but aren’t too, too far away. They have some quality arms. Some with certainty and some without. The offense is dreadful. Obviously, you can’t trade Lindor for nothing but this is the time to maximize his value. The Indians have talent. If they want to stay relevant in the future, they have to trade Francisco Lindor now.