GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Cleveland Indians executive Chris Antonetti says the franchise and representatives for star shortstop Francisco Lindor made a “sincere and earnest effort” to agree on a long-term contract before deciding this week to suspend talks.
Antonetti, the president of baseball operations, said Wednesday the sides worked for months and tried “different and creative concepts” to strike a deal, but ultimately decided not to continue negotiations with opening day two weeks away. Lindor characterized the discussions in a similar manner to The Athletic on Monday.
Lindor will make $17.5 million this year and can become a free agent after the 2021 season.
"I’m really appreciative of the effort Francisco and his representatives and our ownership put into the process of trying to find alignment," Antonetti said.
Lindor, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, hit .284 with 32 home runs, 22 stolen bases and an .854 OPS last season. The 26-year-old is among the game's top young stars and has been with the organization since Cleveland selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft.
Cleveland's payroll projects to be down significantly from its final figure of $123 million last year. The team traded star pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer over the past eight months partially to cut salary.
Antonetti said he expected “we will have the resources” to add pieces in-season if the club is contending, but that isn't assuaging Indians fans frustrated that Cleveland is spending less as AL Central rivals Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox are aggressively pursuing the division title.
Lindor told The Athletic on Monday he believed small-market Cleveland could spend $120 million annually. Antonetti said he didn't know where Lindor got that number but said the sides did discuss the Indians' ability to add players around Lindor if they did sign a lucrative deal to make him a lifetime Indian.