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Indians reportedly prefer not to trade Francisco Lindor, which means they’re probably working on trading Francisco Lindor

It’s all about leverage

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Indians are notoriously tight-lipped this time of year, but with rumors of trading away their franchise player at the peak of his career (and the peak of their window to win) has apparently squeezed a bit out of information out of them.

The latest, which isn’t really that new since it’s the same thing we’ve heard all off-season, is that the Indians would “prefer not to deal Francisco Lindor.” This time it comes from Jon Heyman, a frequent conduit for front offices looking to leak out information for leverage in trades or contract negotiations.

At first glance — awesome! The Indians don’t want to trade away Francisco Lindor. That’s good news, right?

But let’s think about this a little bit. It’s doubtful that Jon just ran into some intern in the hallway that told him the Indians would prefer not to trade their franchise player. I don’t think he just made it up. More than likely, a front office member texted to Heyman that the Indians don’t want to move Lindor. Not out of the goodness of their heart because they want poor Jon to be able to tweet and feed his family. But for leverage.

It doesn’t make much sense for a potential trading partner, such as a the Dodgers, to do this, because it just reinforces the Indians’ public position of trading Lindor. It makes the Indians seem less likely to trade Lindor because now they’ve — in a way — gone on “record” and leaked it that they don’t want to do so. Trade him now and you go back on your word and the hellfire that Indians fans were going to bring anyway is going to be even worse.

The Indians don’t have much of a reason to move Lindor besides their own tight purse strings, and now it’s in public view that they don’t want to do it. It stands to reason that they themselves would tell Jon Heyman they don’t prefer to move Lindor because it will help drive up the price from desperate teams trying to acquire him, fan anger be damned.

Picture it, San Diego, 2019:

“That’s understandable Mr. Dodgers front office man, but if you don’t want to move Gavin Lux and a Cleveland In-N-Out franchise location in exchange for Francisco Lindor, then by golly we just can’t do it.”

Cue text to Jon to make the Dodgers sweat and make them think the Indians are seriously closing up the trade talks, then wait for them to come crawling back for one of the best, most marketable players in baseball. Gavin Lux and burger joint in hand.

I could be wrong — it’s happened once or twice — but everything about these leaks feels fishy.