MLB Free Agency 2013: Playing Fact or Fiction with All the Hottest Rumors

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2013

MLB Free Agency 2013: Playing Fact or Fiction with All the Hottest Rumors

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    The hottest MLB rumors can be confusing and contradictory. Bleacher Report distinguishes speculation from substance in this latest fact-or-fiction article.

    At this late stage of the offseason, mobs gravitate toward certain desirable players, while others seemingly struggle to generate any interest.

    But you can't believe every report.

    These definitive updates combine the best available information with a little common sense.

Pittsburgh Pirates Moving on from Francisco Liriano

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    The southpaw agreed to a two-year deal on Dec. 21, but never underwent a mandatory physical. He reportedly injured his non-throwing arm earlier that month.

    As of last week, the Pittsburgh Pirates were still speaking with Francisco Liriano's agent, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    Looks like the front office grew impatient.

    Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Jeff Karstens will re-join the club.

    Dealt to Pittsburgh in 2008, he spent parts of five seasons in the rotation prior to being non-tendered this winter. Karstens went 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 19 appearances last summer. Biertempfel writes that the Pirates will pay him $2.5 million.

    The team expects to slot Karstens behind A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald.

    It's tough to imagine Liriano getting the final spot over cheap internal candidates like Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson and newly-signed Jeanmar Gomez. Each of them gained MLB experience in 2012.

New York Teams Battling Hard for Scott Hairston

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    The New York Mets have never stopped loving Scott Hairston. He launched a career-high 20 home runs for them last season and moved into an everyday role down the stretch.

    Hairston has also been linked to the New York Yankees, whose 2013 starting outfield will be comprised entirely of left-handed batters.

    Truth be told, neither considers him a top target.

    YES Network's Jack Curry reports that the Yankees could just as easily balance the lineup by acquiring Mike Morse from the Washington Nationals:

    Yankees called the Nats about Morse after LaRoche signing, but Nats weren't ready to talk trade yet. The two teams will eventually talk.

    — Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) January 11, 2013

    The team aims to get below the $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014. Signing Hairston to a multi-year deal would make that a challenge, whereas Morse comes off the books next winter.

    Though the crosstown Mets have no objection to Hairston's preferred contract length or role, they will first pursue "bigger name" outfielders, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That includes Justin Upton (via Marc Carig, Newsday).

Arizona Diamondbacks Still Shopping Justin Upton

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks clearly want Justin Upton gone.

    They were disappointed but not deterred when the outfielder vetoed a potential deal to the Seattle Mariners. Upton's no-trade list only includes four MLB teams.

    One major league source seems confident that "something is going to happen," according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports.

    The aforementioned New York Mets could use someone with Upton's skill set. Also, Arizona likes Texas Rangers prospect Mike Olt (via Buster Olney, ESPN). The Rangers have been inquiring about Upton throughout the offseason and would be interested in any transaction that doesn't compromise their shortstop depth.

    Currently, the D-Backs control five potential starting outfielders. Their preference is to move the most expensive one.

Scott Boras Won't Find Big Deals for Michael Bourn or Kyle Lohse

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    At this time a year ago, Scott Boras client Prince Fielder didn't have a completed contract, but he signed a $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers the following week.

    Never doubt the skills of baseball's super agent.

    The Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals have all backed away from Kyle Lohse in recent weeks, according to MLB Trade Rumors. He's still a good fit for the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers, teams with money to spend in competitive divisions.

    Michael Bourn also makes sense for the Rangers, who have yet to replace Josh Hamilton in the outfield.

    Re-signing with the Atlanta Braves is another possibility, general manager Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He would probably play left field in that situation.

    There's competition for both players and bidding wars typically lead to big bucks.