Playing Fact or Fiction with the Hottest MLB Rumors Early in 2013
Just because information comes from "major league sources" doesn't mean it's accurate. This fact-or-fiction article examines the hottest MLB rumors and distinguishes developments from pure speculation.
Everybody around baseball is getting anxious now that the calendar has flipped to 2013.
Too impatient for the offseason to run its course, reporters occasionally exaggerate meager findings. Meanwhile, team officials make prematurely definitive statements about potential transactions.
Bleacher Report does its best to straighten out this mess.
Darren Oliver Unhappy with Current Contract
Oliver is a pivotal piece of Toronto's projected bullpen.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirm that, indeed, Darren Oliver is threatening to retire.
The Toronto Blue Jays enthusiastically exercised a $3 million club option several months ago.
However, that isn't enough compensation for the 42-year-old coming off a terrific year. Oliver has instead given the team two options: increase the salary or complete a trade with his hometown Texas Rangers.
Acquiring stars like R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes put the Blue Jays way over budget for the 2013 season. General manager Alex Anthopoulos is reluctant to add to it, according to MLB.com's Chris Toman.
Odds are that Oliver ends his career.
Kyle Lohse Will Re-Sign with St. Louis Cardinals
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
With so many internal starting pitching options, the St. Louis Cardinals have not considered re-signing Kyle Lohse, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The 29 other teams would need to sacrifice a draft pick for the right-hander, and few seem interested in doing so. "It hasn’t been exactly a free market," Lohse says, while admitting that he has received zero contract offers at this point.
That will eventually change.
The 34-year-old is clearly the No. 1 free-agent starter remaining, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes he could be in play for the Texas Rangers.
Philadelphia Phillies Won't Add Another Full-Time Outfielder
Ben Revere could be Philadelphia's only everyday outfielder.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Earlier this winter, the Philadelphia Phillies were linked to productive outfielders like Josh Hamilton and Cody Ross.
Both signed elsewhere, of course, and none of the available starting candidates make sense. Michael Bourn would push the Phillies above the luxury tax threshold, and Scott Hairston is basically a platoon player. The latter could sign with one of the New York teams in "a matter of days," according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
Via Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Enquirer, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says he will reluctantly enter spring training with inexperience at the corners. The team continues to pursue "low-risk, high-reward type of players," but nobody coming off a strong season.
Internal options include Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf. Only Nix has more than 1,000 MLB plate appearances.
Javier Vazquez Definitely Returning to Major League Baseball
Vazquez has pitched for six different MLB franchises.
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The Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals certainly hope he does. All four have reportedly scouted Javier Vazquez in the Puerto Rico Baseball League, according to Ken Rosenthal.
In five starts for his hometown Leones de Ponce, the 36-year-old sports a 3.52 earned run average with 30 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched.
Despite his effectiveness and solid velocity, Vazquez hasn't committed to an MLB comeback.
The right-hander tells Ralph Pagan Archeval of ESPNDeportes.com that family time is very important to him. Only a sure-fire contender offering a major league deal could convince him to sacrifice some of it.
Arizona Diamondbacks Prefer to Trade Jason Kubel over Justin Upton
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General manager Kevin Towers won't move one of his excess outfielders in a "lousy deal," writes Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, but he prefers to create space for prospect Adam Eaton.
This winter, Justin Upton suitors have scoffed at the Arizona Diamondbacks' asking price. The Texas Rangers, for example, refuse to build packages around Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. Jon Heyman tweets that the New York Mets aren't motivated to move top talent, and neither are the Baltimore Orioles (via Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun).
Jason Kubel, meanwhile, is a great fit for American League clubs like Baltimore and the Tampa Bay Rays as a designated hitter. Those division rivals would possibly overpay to prevent the other from acquiring him.
Trading him yields a smaller return but a better value, which is what Towers cares about most.
Mike Napoli's Deal with Boston Red Sox Falling Apart
Both sides agreed to a three-year deal last month.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
It's unclear why Mike Napoli hasn't officially joined the Boston Red Sox yet. However, the team remains "hopeful" that everything will be finalized soon (via Peter Abraham, The Boston Globe).
In December, Jim Bowden of SiriusXM and ESPN.com was one of several insiders to report that the team wanted to add protective language to the contract.
The Red Sox did something similar with John Lackey, who signed with them after the 2009 season. His recent Tommy John surgery gives them a 2015 club option at the league minimum. Napoli's problem area is the hip.
Boston lost some leverage on Tuesday morning. Adam LaRoche—their No. 1 fallback option at first base—agreed to re-sign with the Washington Nationals, according to Amanda Comak of The Washington Times.
At this late stage of the winter, Napoli won't find many other teams who can beat the $39 million offer already on the table.
Atlanta Braves Thinking About Re-Signing Michael Bourn
Bourn arrived in Atlanta midway through the 2011 season.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Michael Bourn would play left field alongside newly-signed B.J. Upton. That enables Martin Prado to take over at third base.
Bourn is a Scott Boras client who expected to land an expensive, multi-year deal this winter following a productive season. It's unclear how much the Atlanta Braves could spend on him, but general manager Frank Wren tells O'Brien that his team is "open" to a reunion.
Atlanta values Bourn's defense, speed and high on-base percentage.
Several potential contenders covet those skills, too. The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers could be in the mix for his services.
Miami Marlins Could Move Giancarlo Stanton
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Assistant general manager Dan Jennings explains that "listening to" and "negotiating with" are not synonymous. Jim Bowden tweets that Jennings has merely kept an open mind as teams call him with offers for Giancarlo Stanton.
Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald verifies his claim. The Marlins reportedly haven't had any serious internal discussions about moving the outfielder.
And why would they?
Stanton's power-hitting ability sells tickets, and he'll be under team control through 2016. The 23-year-old isn't even eligible for arbitration yet.
Baltimore Orioles Will Extend Buck Showalter
Showalter led the O's to an unlikely playoff berth.
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Buck Showalter pushed all the right buttons as manager of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.
Largely due to his assignment of bullpen and bench roles, the team went 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra roles. He moved Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Mark Reynolds out of their primary positions, but they continued to play hard for him.
Sources familiar with the extension talks tell Jon Heyman that Showalter's contract will be extended by three years, which would keep him in orange through 2016. The agreement could be made official early next week, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
He absolutely deserves the security.
I came, I saw, I tweeted something clever about it.