Is Francisco Lindor a big enough upgrade over Corey Seager to consider a deal?

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The Dodgers, are, reportedly, interested in the services of Francisco Lindor. That’s good! He’s one of the best players in all of baseball. But there’s one problem with that: Corey Seager still exists.

Just two years ago, it’d be blasphemous to suggest Seager wouldn’t be a fixture in the Dodgers’ lineup for a decade. But after missing most of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery and a hip injury, coupled with a good-not-great 2019 has some wondering if the Dodgers are looking to upgrade at the shortstop position.

It’s a fair question to ask, as Andrew Friedman and Friends are always looking to upgrade the team (looking and doing are two separate things). Lindor would represent an upgrade — in my eyes — but let’s break things down a bit to see just how much of an upgrade Lindor would be over Seager.

Offense

Career AVG OBP SLG wRC+ ISO BB% K%
Seager .294 .362 .491 128 .197 9.2 19.2
Lindor .288 .347 .493 119 .206 8.0 14.0

Over their careers, Seager has the advantage in most categories above. The scouting reports when both were coming up through the minors always leaned more toward Seager with the bat and Lindor with the glove. But Lindor has made great strides over his career and is now a perennial 30-home run threat. And despite being faster than Seager — and Base Runs aren’t a pure indicator of speed — Lindor trails Seager in that category by almost six (4.0 to 9.9).

The caveat with Seager’s aforementioned numbers is the fact his first three season (two full and a 27-game sample in 2015) have inflated his numbers, despite profiling as the better overall hitter. Some would say that’s a a positive in his column, but it really isn’t. This was his first season back from TJ, so that has to be take into account. But what’s a bit concerning is he never fully looked like himself — even during his hot streaks.

Where Lindor makes up for it is with his plate discipline and bat control. He makes more contact than Seager and accumulates fewer swinging strikes. What’s interesting is that he does chase a bit more, but it hasn’t hurt him terribly. Overall, he swings about as much as Seager does, but he gets more out of his swings.

It comes down to what you prefer as a hitter. Seager is a better pure hitter, while Lindor combines better contact ability and home run power. Lindor also has fewer swinging strikes but chases outside the zone more than Seager does.

Defense

Career Innings DRS UZR/150 Def
Seager 4,003 18 4.4 32.7
Lindor 6,189.2 55 11.0 79.1

Defensive metrics never tell the entire story, but based on the two players, the eye test and scouting reports, this seems to all bear out. Lindor is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, while Seager has been (surprisingly) above-average over the course of his career, thanks partly to the Dodgers’ positioning of him. Look what they did for Manny Machado after he came over from Baltimore in July 2018 (-18 DRS with the Orioles, +5 with the Dodgers).

But if you look even deeper at some defensive numbers, you’ll see not only just how good Lindor has been, but how much more effective a defender at shortstop he has been than Seager.

Career Remote (1-10%) Unlikely (10-40%) Even (40-60%) Likely (60-90%) Routine (90-100%)
Seager 0.0 14.3 57.1 67.6 96.4
Lindor 9.8 46.9 68.8 79.5 97.5

Since 2015, Lindor is 3rd in MLB in remote (behind Adeiny Hechavarria and Andrelton Simmons); 2nd unlikely (Carlos Correa) and even (Jose Iglesias); 5th in likely and 7th in routine. Seager’s ranks in those respective categories are as follows: 18th, 16th, 6th, 16th and 16th. Lindor records outs at a higher rate as a shortstop than Seager does, which ultimately helps the pitcher out immensely. That gives him an even bigger edge defensively in my eyes.

Age/contract

Lindor turns 26 next month, while Seager is 25 until the end of April. They’re roughly six months apart, which isn’t surprising since they were both drafted as prep players just one year apart (2011 and 2012). Seager is projected to make $7.1 million in his second year of arbitration, while Lindor is getting a hefty raise to a projected $16.7 million. Both are two years away from free agency. Both are going to get massive paydays in two winters, but it remains to be seen from which team. But if the Dodgers acquire Lindor, they better be willing to open up the checkbook to keep him in LA.

Acquisition cost

Luckily for the Dodgers, they don’t have to do anything but pay Seager money for him to be on their team. Acquiring Lindor would almost certainly lead to the end of Seager’s Dodger career. It’s tough when you think of it in those terms, but it’s the reality. He’d either go to Cleveland in the deal or be sent elsewhere in a separate deal. The Dodgers would have to include another significant piece or two to get a deal done, I’d think. I broke it down a bit more (with a comparison to Anthony Rendon) over at True Blue LA yesterday.

So, what Friedman has to do is evaluate whether the cost of acquiring Lindor plus whatever comes back in a Seager deal makes the Dodgers an overall better club.

Conclusion

While Seager is a known to the Dodgers and should be even better a year removed from TJ, the allure of bringing in a superstar like Lindor is awfully appealing. Lindor seems to fit what the Dodgers are looking for more in a shortstop (athletic, good glove, power) and it wouldn’t be surprising if they upgraded from Seager.

If it were up to me and I wanted to shake things up from my 106-win team, this is the kind of move I’d be looking to make.

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Like most big rumors and big names linked to the Dodgers (in the offseason), they probably won’t get him. But it’s really fun to think about.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.