MLB Trade Rumors: Fact or Fiction with the Latest Deadline Talk
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After the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball can get back to business as usual. The next big date on the calendar is July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline that can be the best and worst time for both fans and franchises.
So many rumors are going to be floated out there by teams and agents to keep the asking price going up, up, up. As we know all too well, virtually everything that we hear up through the deadline turns out to be garbage.
But from time to time, when a team is really inclined to make a push for the postseason, one of those rumors turns out to be true. These can be moves that completely change the landscape of the playoff race, like Cliff Lee going to Texas three years ago. Other times the moves won't mean all that much.
Still, given our fascination with the potential trade partners and names on the move, we are going to play a game of "Fact or Fiction" with the latest batch of rumors floating around this deadline season.
Rumor: Giants Trade Tim Lincecum, Who Then Becomes a Reliever
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The Report: According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, "some teams" have interest in acquiring Tim Lincecum and using him out of the bullpen down the stretch as he prepares to enter free agency.
Multiple sources told me recently that some teams — the Tigers are one — have interest in acquiring Lincecum as a reliever for the stretch drive. Of course, that presumes that the Giants will become sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That’s far from certain, even with a 43-50 record.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
There are a lot of things to digest with this rumor. While it probably would make sense for the Giants to try and get something for Lincecum before he becomes a free agent, if they don't want to re-sign him, are we prepared to believe the Giants are going to sell players?
For as bad as the defending champions have looked over the last month, they are currently just 6.5 games back in the National League West. On top of that, no one else is running away with the division. The Diamondbacks have been the "class" of the division but are just five games over .500.
The Giants have gone all-in to keep the big league team competitive ever since winning the 2010 World Series. They could come to grips with the fact that this season might not work out, especially in light of the issues with Lincecum, Matt Cain and virtually everyone in the lineup not named Posey or Scutaro.
But when push comes to shove, you always have to gamble on the Giants keeping what they have and trying to make a move that will help, not hurt them. Plus, given how much the Giants value him, what is a team really going to give up for Lincecum?
Take away the no-hitter, which was a great moment, and his season has been well below average. Lincecum can still miss bats, but he still walks too many hitters (48 in 116.1) and his ERA+ is just 79 when league average is 100.
I do like the idea of a team using Lincecum as a reliever, especially since we saw how successful he can be in a multiple-inning role of the 'pen in last year's postseason. But there is a limit to how much teams will spend on relief pitching.
Rumor: The Rangers Would Trade Martin Perez for Matt Garza
The Report: According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, several baseball personnel people expect Garza to go to the Rangers. He also mentions that young left-hander Martin Perez could be the key piece going back to the Cubs.
Chicago has first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the majors, and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler and shortstop Javier Baez among the game’s best prospects. So while my panel said the Cubs would take the best prospect they could get, the feeling was that all things being equal, Chicago would favor a pitcher. That is why Martin Perez could be a key element for the Cubs to move Garza to Texas.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
We know from past experience with Cliff Lee that the Rangers are not shy about acquiring pitching at the deadline. However, based on this particular idea, it doesn't make much sense for them to do it.
First, why would the Rangers trade a young, very talented, cost-controlled and big league ready left-handed starting pitcher for someone who, while pitching well lately, has a long injury history, is not nearly as good as Lee was when the Rangers acquired him three years ago and will be a free agent at the end of the year?
Second, even with Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando out, Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch struggling, and Derek Holland possibly pitching a bit over his head, the Rangers are still just two games out in the American League West and lead Baltimore by 1.5 games for the second wild card spot.
The Rangers aren't a team that goes after "good" when they make a trade. To use the old cliche, they are a team that goes big or goes home. Yes, they have players like Perez, Jurickson Profar and, assuming his vision problems are truly a thing of the past, Mike Olt to dangle in a trade.
But they aren't going to package any of them in a trade without getting the highest possible return. If that player isn't out there this year, and it doesn't appear he is, they will stand pat and take their chances.
Rumor: Cubs Will Get Package for Garza Comparable to What Greinke Got Milwaukee
The Report: According to David Kaplan of Comcast SportsNet Chicago, baseball personnel believe that the Cubs can get a package of players for Garza that is close to what Milwaukee got for Zack Greinke last July.
A year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Angels and received three prospects including standout shortstop Jean Segura and two Double-A pitchers. Of the baseball personnel experts I spoke with, the consensus is the Cubs will probably not receive as much as the Brewers did but should come close.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction, with a caveat
The one thing that gives me pause in saying that there is no chance the Cubs are going to get a package like what Milwaukee got is desperation. We always see teams, either actual contenders or ones that convince themselves they are contenders, make a desperate move as a show of good faith. That desperation can lead a team to overspend.
That said, there doesn't seem to be the kind of fervor over Garza that there was Greinke. Some of that can be attributed to teams just not wanting to part with cost-controlled talent in favor of a rental. It also hurts the Cubs that Garza just isn't as good a pitcher, when both are on top of their game, as Greinke.
Plus, we may be overrating just how good the Brewers package for Greinke really was. Segura turned into an All-Star this season, but his overall performance has been declining since a red-hot April and his talent is that of a solid player, not a constant All-Star.
Certainly there is a ton of value in a solid everyday shortstop like Segura, but he is not going to be an elite player at his position. The other pieces in that deal for the Brewers included Johnny Hellweg, who has a great arm but looks like a reliever, and Ariel Pena, who can't throw enough strikes to be more than a reliever.
But given the scarcity of middle infielders, it doesn't seem likely that a team would part with one who projects as at least a solid-average big leaguer for two months of Garza.
Rumor: Michael Young to Find Himself on the Move Yet Again?
The Report: According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, a number of teams have called the Phillies to inquire about the availability of third baseman Michael Young.
About a dozen clubs have checked in on Young, according to major league sources. Included among them: The Boston Red Sox, who had their vice president of player personnel, Allard Baird, watch the Phillies in back-to-back series before the All-Star break, sources say.
Fact or Fiction: Fact
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. can try all he wants to convince himself that the team is going to compete for a playoff spot this season, but when push comes to shove you have to look at what you have.
This franchise has gotten older and, in a lot of ways, dumber in the last five years. It hands out contracts to Delmon Young and invests big money in Ryan Howard for no particular reason at all.
Young is a player who, even with the Rangers paying most of his salary, is getting too much money from the Phillies. He is a terrible defender at third base and would be best served playing full-time at DH. The only problem with that is Young can't hit for power anymore.
The Phillies should do whatever they can to maximize a return on Young this season before he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. That is also another factor for Amaro to seriously consider this deadline season.
Young is hitting better than anyone would have expected, which is why there is trade interest in him. Since the Phillies know he can walk at the end of the year, now would be the time to start gauging the market for the third baseman.
Rumor: Diamondbacks in on Jake Peavy
The Report: According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Arizona Diamondbacks have discussed Jake Peavy and the Chicago White Sox have looked at Randall Delgado.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
When the White Sox acquired Peavy from San Diego in 2009, they did so while the former Cy Young winner was on the disabled list. That also came at a time when he was signed for three more full years through 2012.
Peavy is currently signed through 2014 at $14.5 million next season. So if the White Sox were inclined to move him, they would most likely have to eat some of that contract. That could work to their benefit, as some teams acquiring a player will make the package a little sweeter if they don't have to pay the entirety of the salary.
The White Sox also acquired Peavy when he was 28 years old. Now at 32 years old, Peavy presents a lot more risk because of his age (32), mediocre performance (4.30 ERA, 10 homers allowed in 67 innings) and injury history.
The Diamondbacks are not a perfect team by any stretch of the imagination. They have flaws in all three areas of the game, but they already have a deep young pitching staff that will get better in the next year when Tyler Skaggs gets a permanent spot in the rotation and Archie Bradley graduates to the big leagues.
Adding the always volatile Peavy to that mix doesn't figure to add anything for the Diamondbacks. Plus, while I don't think he is a starter, Delgado has a good enough arm and stuff to be a valuable, cost-controlled reliever for the next five years.
Rumor: Are the Rays in on Seattle's Big Hitters?
The Report: According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tampa Bay Rays have checked in on Seattle sluggers Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales.
Like Ibanez, Morales is a free agent after the year, and while the Mariners don't seem eager to trade either player, by the end of the month reality may set in. The Rays are believed to have checked in about the Mariners' hitters, with the Rangers and Yankees among contenders who make sense.
Fact or Fiction: Fact, with a caveat
The caveat in this case becomes just how invested the Rays are to winning right now and giving up some of their future to do that. That sounds simplistic and reductive, but this is a franchise that doesn't make big trades because it can't afford to mortgage cheap players for immediate gains.
If the Rays' front office decides that this core with Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, David Price and Matt Moore is good enough to win a World Series, Ibanez or Morales makes a lot of sense for what they need.
It is no secret that the Rays don't boast the deepest lineup. Longoria, Zobrist and Wil Myers give them some punch in the middle, but a lack of depth after those three is what has caused them problems in the past.
Ibanez has been incredible for the Mariners, hitting 24 home runs before the All-Star break. That is the most homers he has hit in a season since 2009 and there are still 67 games to go. Morales has been hot and cold this season, but his overall stats are very nice with a .280/.337/.463 slash line and 14 home runs in 350 at-bats.
One problem the Rays could have in acquiring Ibanez or Morales is not having enough to meet what Seattle wants. The Mariners would figure to want offense since they have pitching depth in the big leagues and upper levels of the minors. That is not an area of strength for the Rays' farm system right now, so it might take another team getting involved to satisfy what Seattle wants.
Still, with the Rays just 2.5 games out in the AL East and leading the wild card chase, this would seem as appropriate a time as any for the front office to push a few new buttons in the quest for a World Series.