With the Indians and Francisco Lindor, Silence is a Very Good Thing
If you’re a Cleveland Indians fan, you’ve been dreading this offseason.
It’d be hard not to, especially since many expect this to be the moment superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor is finally traded away. With a contract extension all but out of the cards, it felt safe to assume Cleveland would get top value for him now while he still has two years of team control remaining.
We certainly seemed to be barreling towards that outcome a couple weeks ago, when the Indians reportedly told all interested teams to submit their best and final offers for Lindor. It was a report which had me expressing skepticism, but also one which made it seem as though a conclusion was just around the corner.
Word of Cleveland’s offer deadline surfaced on December 19. In the time since, it’s been nothing but awkward silence. Not a single significant update has surfaced on Lindor since the Indians told the rest of the league “last call.”
If you ask me, this silence is a good thing. At least for those who want to see Lindor in an Indians uniform this summer.
This is, of course, speculation on my part. Just an attempt to read the room. However, I can’t help but think the longer things stay quiet with Lindor, the more likely it is he stays put this season.
Think about how this whole situation has played out over the past few weeks. Every time we hear the Indians are planning to keep Lindor, it’s quickly followed by another report indicating trade talks are progressing.
The offseason opened with Cleveland insisting it would prefer to hang on to Lindor for 2020.
Within two days, we heard the Indians were engaged in serious discussions about trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A few days later, the Tribe traded starting pitcher Corey Kluber, a move which apparently diminished the possibility of trading Lindor.
Soon after said chances “diminished,” we heard the Indians were demanding final offers for their franchise star.
As you can see, any update indicating the Tribe was keeping its shortstop came off as gamesmanship, an unsubtle attempt to spook interested clubs into overpaying.
The Indians’ offer deadline felt like another example of this. It came off as another dare to any interested teams, an attempt to convince someone they needed to overpay before the player they covet comes off the market for the winter.
Yet, since then, we’ve heard nothing.
There have been no reports hinting how the Indians felt about the offers received. No updates about where talks have moved from here. Nobody has tipped their hand about what they proposed. No one has leaked details about any of the offers, period.
Nothing at all. Just crickets.
Sure, we’ve heard there are still clubs vying for Lindor. However, from an Indians team which was engaged in serious trade talks just a couple weeks ago, it’s all quiet.
They haven’t strategically leaked any proposal details. They haven’t challenged anyone to offer more. They haven’t made another veiled claim indicating they definitely plan to keep Lindor now.
Basically, all the gamesmanship from a few weeks ago has stopped.
This, to me, indicates Cleveland is done teasing Lindor’s availability. The Indians did what they could to motivate other clubs to pay up, were underwhelmed with the final offers, and now plan to move on with their star shortstop in the clubhouse.
To be fair, this silence could indicate the Tribe is still mulling offers, still working the phones to sweeten the pot.
However, this would go against the Indians’ original request. They demanded everyone’s final offers. They wanted everybody to put their best hand on the table and that would be that.
It didn’t paint a picture of a team willing to negotiate further.
I initially expressed doubt in Cleveland’s ability to maintain this deadline. It all just felt like another scare tactic.
Yet, the calm since said report seems to hint the Indians were serious. They wanted closure, and may have received just that.
There’s always a chance Lindor ends up being moved in the next few months, that this was just a misread on my part. At this point, nothing would surprise me.
That said, the Indians spent the past month working the system to improve trade offers for Lindor. Since their proposal deadline passed, these tactics have come to a halt.
In going silent on Lindor, Cleveland might be sending its loudest message yet.