Fact or Fiction on All the Hottest MLB Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIDecember 16, 2013

Fact or Fiction on All the Hottest MLB Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

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    The MLB free-agency and trade rumors just won't stop flooding in.

    Sure, many of the biggest names have already been accounted for. However, that just translates to an intense competition for the remaining players left on the free-agent front. Plus, there's been an uptick in trade speculation as general managers seek out creative means to upgrade their respective rosters.

    Here's a look at all the latest MLB free-agency and trade rumors with a breakdown of what's fact or fiction. 

     

    Note: All salary information via Cot's Baseball Contracts on baseballprospectus.com.

Rumor: The Los Angeles Angels Will Sign Raul Ibanez

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    In the wake of sending Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Angels are now in the market for another bat. 

    As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes, Raul Ibanez is on the club's radar. In 2013, the 41-year-old hit .242/.306/.487 while clubbing 29 home runs. However, 24 of those long balls came before the All-Star break.

    That kind of decline will make the Angels wary, but there are other reasons to be far more optimistic. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes, Ibanez boasts a career slash line of .349/.407/.522 in 327 games at Angel Stadium. 

    Such impressive numbers would make Ibanez an ideal fit as the Angels' next designated hitter.

    Verdict: Fact

Rumor: The New York Yankees Have 'No Intention' of Dealing Brett Gardner

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    According to team president Randy Levine, the New York Yankees won't be parting with Brett Gardner this offseason.

    Levine explained on ESPN Radio's The Ian O'Connor Show that the club has "absolutely no intention to move" the speedy outfielder, as per Adam Berry of MLB.com. 

    Ultimately, New York might have to reconsider that stance on Gardner. The Yankees desperately need to upgrade their starting rotation, and the 30-year-old outfielder represents the club's most intriguing trade chip.

    There is an array of front-line starters on the trade block this offseason, and the Yankees will have to seriously consider dangling Gardner in order to acquire one. 

    Verdict: Fiction

Rumor: The Philadelphia Phillies Will Unload Jonathan Papelbon

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    As Buster Olney of ESPN tweets, the Philadelphia Phillies are "extremely motivated" to ship out Jonathan Papelbon.

    Furthermore, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe writes, "the team many scouts believe could use him most is the Yankees." With Mariano Rivera retiring, the Yankees certainly need help with the back end of their bullpen, but Papelbon would be a supremely expensive option.

    The right-hander earns $13 million in each of the next two seasons and has a vesting option for the same amount in 2016. The best chance for the Phillies to move Papelbon would be for the team to chip in a substantial amount of cash in a potential deal. Then again, saving money appears to be the "motivation" behind flipping the closer in the first place.

    Verdict: Fiction

Rumor: The Baltimore Orioles Will Sign A.J. Burnett

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    According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the Baltimore Orioles are in on A.J. Burnett. Now, the big question is if the right-hander plans to pitch in 2014. 

    As Kubatko notes, the Orioles already met with Burnett's representative at the winter meetings. The starter is coming off a 10-11 campaign in which he posted a 3.30 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Burnett has six years of experience pitching in the AL East after spending three seasons each with the Toronto Blue Jays and Yankees. However, Burnett put up ERAs north of 5.00 in both of his final two seasons in New York.  

    Still, there's an excellent chance that Burnett could be headed back to the highly competitive AL East. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports stated the 15-year veteran lives in Maryland. Geography could be deciding the factor here. 

    Verdict: Fact

Rumor: The Seattle Mariners Are Out on Nelson Cruz

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The Seattle Mariners aren't done shopping.

    As general manager Jack Zduriencik explained to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the Mariners still have a number of items on their wish list: 

    I'd still like to add to some areas of the ballclub...I'd love to be able to get another pitcher, we'll look for bullpen help and maybe the possibility of a backup catcher.

    It seems highly unlikely that the pitcher will be David Price after the left-hander's agent told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that Price wouldn't sign an extension with Seattle. Notably absent from Zduriencik's list is an impact bat, such as Nelson Cruz.

    The Mariners would have to pay an exorbitant price to land the slugger, but not pulling the trigger could be just as costly. As Richard Justice of MLB.com remarks, "Still, with a core of young, unproven players, Cano's presence alone didn't position them for a playoff run."

    Justice is absolutely correct. The Mariners still need one big bat, and Cruz represents the Mariners' best bet.

    Verdict: Fiction

     

    If you want to talk baseball find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.