Buckeyes, Indians, WWW

A crazy long-term Lindor contract, and Greg Schiano: While We’re Waiting

Yes dear reader, I’ve officially taken over While We’re Waiting. After back-to-back WWW’s on Friday and Monday, pretty sure this is just going to be my gig from now on… right? Not really, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

With the Browns busy ruining everyone’s Sunday once again, I think it’s extremely important to wake up this find Monday morning thinking of thoughts outside the NFL. While the Browns are rolling through the turmoil of bad ownership, mysterious front office movement, and bad play calling on-the-field, your Cleveland Indians are busy… being patient.

In the past, this sort of take would be considered hot for the Indians, because the term patient could have been replaced with the phrase, “not enough money,” or “waiting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.” Fortunately, the Indians actually have plenty of money to make moves this offseason, and have a top-to-bottom team that when healthy, is certainly one of the top three teams in the league.

It’s really hard to forecast what the Indians plan to do with the money that they have available. On Friday, I made a case that they had more than enough surplus to not only sign Carlos Santana, but to have another $5 to $10 million in the coffers should they really want to push the envelope on their payroll scale for the 2018 season. It’s distinctly possible that this is the route the Indians intend on taking. If they believe that Santana isn’t going to get anything close to a five-year, $100 million deal that it’s likely he’s looking for, Tribe president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff have the ability to wait out the storm a bit, as they did for Edwin Encarnacion last year. Encarnacion still got his $20 million a year average, but the Indians didn’t have to go the full five years that he was looking for last November.

While the Indians will still be involved in free agents talks with several players throughout this current offseason, the team will also likely be in talks with several of its own players who will be looking for extensions. Cody Allen is in his last year of arbitration, and will hit the free agent market next winter looking to cash in on the recent surge in relief pitchers long-term deals. Andrew Miller will also be hitting the free agent market at the end of the 2018 season, looking to bump up his four-year, $36 million dollar deal as one of the top two or three relief pitchers over the span of that contract. Lonnie Chisenhall is another player at the tail-end of his arbitration, who may be a cost-effective extension, should the Indians want to continue to employ him as a platoon option in the outfield.

Trevor Bauer is probably the most likely of this bunch, as he enters his first year of arbitration eligibility, coming off his best season as a starter. This is when the Indians like to strike deals with their starters. Carlos Carrasco signed his four-year extension after already signing a contract to avoid his first arbitration year, which became a part of his extension. Corey Kluber signed his extension the same year, a year before he was scheduled to hit arbitration. Bauer, who has remained healthy throughout his career, other than his run-in with his drone, is likely going to at least get an offer to extend into his free agent years.

But all eyes will be on Francisco Lindor, and whether or not the Indians engage in legitimate talks to an extension. The Indians reportedly offered their shortstop a substantial contract last offseason. If you’re to believe the reports, the deal was unprecedented, coming in at somewhere around seven-years, and close to $100 million. While that report was never confirmed, several media outlets reported it, with some local reporters confirming that a “substantial deal had been offered.” Lindor turned it down.

The Indians will no doubt be looking to extend their young star once again, but Lindor improved his market value with a massive jump in power (15 to 33 homers, 30 to 44 doubles, .435 to .505 slubbing, and .134 to .232 ISO), while finishing fifth in the MVP voting (after finishing ninth in 2016). It’s not hard to figure that Lindor is betting on himself in this cat-and-mouse contract game, as have players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Both Harper and Machado hit the free agent market at the end of the season, and will likely be looking to re-set the market, and will likely be looking at contracts that come close to $40 million a year. Since both players will only be 27-years old, there’s no doubt that they’ll be looking for a 10-year deal as well.

It’s likely that Lindor is waiting that process out, because once the market resets, it’s likely that any conversation with Lindor about extending will start in that $200 million range, and as silly as this sounds saying it out loud, that might not be enough.

I’ve had several conversations with other Indians’ writers over the years who I hold in high respect, and we’ve all said some variation of this: “Offer him 10-years and $200 million. Who says no?”

While I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “Lindor will,” that’s a legitimate possibility. He might simply say no because he doesn’t know the market. He might simply say no because it just doesn’t make sense for a just-turned-24-year old to sign away free agent years when $20 million a year could cost him another $20 million a year. Sure, you have injuries to worry about, but that’s a lot of money.

But the Indians need to start getting really proactive with this. While injuries are a concern, are they more a concern than say a player like Mike Trout or Buster Posey? Trout signed a six-year deal entering his arbitration years, that covered those three years, and took his first three years of free agency. The difference, of course, is that Trout still hits free agency in his age 29 year, and will still likely sign a second massive contract. His deal looks like this:

2015-Arb 1:$5.25 Million
2016-Arb 2: $15.25 Million
2017-Arb 3: $19.25 Million
2018-FA1: $33.25 Million
2019-FA2: $33.25 Million
2020-FA3: $33.25 Million

Trout received a no-trade clause, and has no options of any sort in the deal, when clubs typically want one or two club options at the tail end. Of course, Trout was clearly the best player in the league then, so it’s a good bet on a player that has a whole lotta prime left, if he stays healthy.

As big as that $144.5 million extension was, Buster Posey’s was even more interesting, especially considering his position. Posey’s eight-year, $167 million deal (which actually included one pre-arb year, technically making it a nine-year deal) controlled three arbitration years, and five free agent years.

2014-Arb 1:$10.5 Million
2015-Arb 2: $16.5 Million
2016-Arb 3: $20 Million
2017-FA1:$21.4 Million
2018-FA2:$21.4 Million
2019-FA3:$21.4 Million
2020-FA4:$21.4 Million
2021-FA5: $21.4 Million
2022-FA6: $22 Million Club option, with a $3 Million buyout

Now without getting into the critical nature of both deals too much, Trout’s deal took heat for the front end of the deal. You can see that he left a ton on the table, while making a lot of that up on the tail-end of the deal. Trout also got a $5 million signing bonus, vs. Posey’s $7 million. While Posey’s deal didn’t take any heat, you can argue that he left a ton of money on the table at the tail end of that, but you are really taking a gamble at the catcher position. The fact that Posey hasn’t played in less than 140 games (in 2017) since 2011, and you can see that the gamble has paid off for both sides.

But where does that leave Lindor. Certainly there aren’t many experts that suggest that Lindor should make Trout money, right? But when Major League Baseball has been touting Lindor as a face of the franchise, is this perhaps something that he and his agent are thinking? When Lindor’s agent, David Meter, was asked about the extension, Verducci quoted him as saying,

“It’s just one of those things we’ll look at on a year-by-year basis. I don’t think it’s very productive to draw a line in the sand.”

So what would a deal for Lindor look like in la-la land? This is just me spitballing crazy numbers, and I still think it comes up short, because I don’t think Lindor would want to go too far into his free agency. Like Trout, I think he’d probably only want a deal that boosts his arbitration number, and maybe gets him one free agent year. This would take him three years into free agency, and would come out as a seven-year, $140 million deal. Obviously, if you took it to ten years, or added a club option with a bonus, and/or a signing bonus, you could boost it towards that $200 million option as well.

25-2018-PA1-$4 Million
26-2019-Arb1-$10 Million
27-2020-Arb2-$16 Million
28-2021-Arb3-$20 Million
29-2022-FA1-$30 Million
30-2023-FA2-$30 Million
31-2024-FA3-$30 Million

Now I’m just spitballing numbers here, and have no real context as to what any sort of deal for Lindor would look like. I’m also fairly certain that the Indians would be really contract-averse to multiple $30 million years at the back-end of the deal, although Lindor would still be in his prime. Hell, I’m pretty sure Lindor would be contract averse to this.

But think about it. If the Indians truly did offer their superstar around $100 million last year, and nobody has come out and declined that information, wouldn’t a deal like this make sense as the next step?

Would Lindor take it?

Would the Indians offer it?

Should they?

Not sure what the realities are regarding Lindor’s contract extension, but I’d bet he’s going to wait until the end of next season, then watch the market implode with Harper and Machado. Once that happens, this $140 million deal, I suspect, will look really cheap.

And what about Tennessee hiring Greg Schiano, then un-hiring Greg Schiano? I’m not going to lie here… I really don’t want to talk about this, and want to talk about it at the same time. My timeline for this hire went something like this:

  1. Friend on Facebook timeline that grew up in Tennessee, and is a ridiculously crazy Volunteer football fan said, “I’d take Lane Kiffin back in a heartbeat instead of this guy.” I didn’t know who “this guy” was yet.
  2. I head over to google and type “this guy” into google search (not really, I typed ‘Tennessee coach,’ and Greg Schiano’s name popped up, with a variety of Twitter posts that were of the unkind variety.
  3. I head to WFNY Slack and said, “Hey, they’re comparing Schiano to Kiffin, how ridiculous is that.”
  4. Was told that he knew about the Sandusky deal
  5. I realized I had forgotten that
  6. I watched as the world imploded around Schiano
  7. Tennessee backs out, and likely, Schiano is grateful.

So some background:

Greg Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990 through 1995. He was a grad assistant in 1990, and was a defensive backs coach from 1991 through 1995. In a Washington Post article dated July 12, 2016, it was reported that Mike McQueary testified that both Tom Bradley, then a linebacker and special teams coach at Penn State had knowledge of Jerry Sandusky’s behavior.

According to the article:

“He said another assistant coach had come to him in the early ’90s about a very similar situation to mine, and he said that he had — someone had come to him as far back as early as the ’80s about seeing Jerry Sandusky doing something with a boy,” McQueary said.

According to McQueary, Bradley identified Schiano, now the Ohio State defensive coordinator, as the other assistant. In response to a question about whether Bradley had shared details of what Schiano had said, McQueary related a conversation with Bradley.

“No,” McQueary replied, according to the documents, “only that he had — I can’t remember if it was one night or one morning — but that Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower. And that’s it. That’s all he ever told me.”

Schiano has always adamantly denied the reports, as has Bradley. That report was unsealed in July of 2016 after McQueary testified in 2012. Ohio State hired Schiano in December of 2015.

According to Urban Meyer:

“Greg’s been a close friend for 20-plus years,” Meyer said. “He’s an elite person, elite father and elite husband, and that carries over into the way he handles his players. Excellent coach, excellent person.”

I have no problem with the University of Tennessee making the decision not to hire Greg Schiano. Whether it’s true or not, an institution that takes on the responsibility of shaping young minds, and handling millions and millions of dollars should have the ability to make those decisions. BUT, how do you get all the way down the path of hiring a coach as a university, including signing a “Memorandum of Understanding” stating that he would be their next coach, without vetting this entire process? How is it that it takes basically an entire state burning down Schiano’s name, before the university catches on? How is it that people keep making idiotic, knee-jerk reactions, when they should have had a more complete process, without being held accountable.

It’s just odd.

If Schiano saw what Sandusky did and didn’t report it, he deserves whatever hit he takes. But boy, University of Tennessee, it’s not hard to see why you have turned that football program into a laughingstock. Do your homework. Make your hires. Have conviction.

They clearly didn’t do any of that.

I’m curious as to what the future holds for Greg Schiano. I’m not sure whether or not Ohio State vetted Schiano after that report came out, but you can certainly bet that it’s going to happen now. I suspect in the climate that we’re in today, we are a long way from hearing the end of this, and in fairness, the story shouldn’t be over until it plays out.

Nobody’s name should get dragged through the mud if they don’t deserve it, and I know that there are folks that are on both sides of that coin. Truth is, it’s a hard questions to answer, but it’s certainly fair to ask, considering the deposition from which it came from.

Here are the facts. McQueary made the comments five years ago under oath. They were unsealed 15 months ago, and to my knowledge, they either weren’t investigated, or were investigated, and nothing came of it. Schiano would never be accused of the accusation because McQueary allegedly heard it from Bradley, who allegedly heard it from Schiano. Is there such a thing as double heresay? With Schiano’s denial, it’s likely we’ll never know the truth, because there just won’t be definitive facts surrounding it.

In the end, the Tennessee fans have spoken. As what tends to happen in today’s world, social media reared its head, and the invisible angry mob turned into a visible angry mob, and “forced” a weak-kneed university to make a rash decision without regard of anything other than said mob.

Of course, the Cleveland Browns cannot help but get involved when there is a scandal afoot. It appears as though Jimmy Haslam had his fingerprints all over the Greg Schiano hire to begin with. Hard to imagine anything would go wrong with taking his hiring recommendations, right?