Playing Fact or Fiction with the Week's Biggest MLB Offseason Rumors
The Major League Baseball hot stove is always evolving, changing course and sending fans spiraling in a different direction.
If you have the destination of a free-agent star figured out, his likely destination is probably elsewhere. If a rumor sounds substantial, it might be the result of an agent trying to drum up the market for his client or faulty information leaking through into the news.
The key to following the hot stove: separating fact from fiction.
For general managers around the sport, possessing this ability can be the difference between overspending on flawed players or finding a diamond in the rough.
For the average fan, it can be the difference between sounding like the smartest guy or a total fool at the company holiday party.
Luckily, we have you covered, regardless of your standing in the baseball community.
The following is an attempt to separate fact from fiction after a wild week of action and rumors in Major League Baseball.
*Note: All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.
Jimmy Rollins Will Be Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies: Fiction
The Philadelphia Phillies, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, want to move shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Despite their insistence to opposing teams that Rollins is available, don't count on a deal happening anytime soon.
Rollins, a 14-year veteran and lifetime member of the Phillies organization, owns a no-trade clause in his contract that runs through at least the 2014 season, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Heading into spring training, Rollins is 59 hits shy of the hit record in Philllies franchise history. After helping the team morph from perennial losers to World Series champions during his outstanding career, it's hard to believe Rollins would willingly sign off on a trade at this juncture of his career.
Of course, as I wrote previously, scenarios can easily be concocted that have Rollins playing in another uniform by April.
The Phillies are motivated to make a move, but until Rollins' motivation to play for a contender enters the equation, don't expect to see a new face at shortstop in Philadelphia.
Shin-Soo Choo Will Sign a Contract Bigger Than $140 Million: Fact
Shin-Soo Choo and agent Scott Boras are confident in their ability to garner one of the biggest contracts in baseball history.
If they weren't, turning down a seven-year, $140 million offer from the New York Yankees, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, would have been the worst financial decision of the winter thus far.
When the story broke that Choo had rejected New York's substantial offer, reality emerged for baseball fans: Choo is going to break the bank.
Due to his prowess as an on-base machine (.423 in 2013, .392 since 2008), Choo is coveted around the sport. Front-office minds that control baseball's money studied and learned the game during the early days of Bill James. When the importance of on-base percentage became mainstream, thanks to Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane, the sport changed forever.
Years ago, Choo may have been undervalued due to low RBI totals or the lack of 30-plus home run seasons.
In today's game, he's poised to surpass the $150 million mark on the open market.
The New York Yankees Are Doomed Without Masahiro Tanaka: Fiction
Will he stay or will he go?
The saga around Masahiro Tanaka's posting process from Japan has hijacked the offseason. The latest bit of news, via Ken Belson of The New York Times, features a final twist to the story: Tanaka won't be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Thus, pitching hungry teams, like the New York Yankees, will have to look elsewhere for impact starting pitching.
Tanaka's value, complicated by the constantly evolving posting process, was gaining steam by the day within Major League Baseball. After a 24-0 season, the 25-year-old was poised to break the bank on the open market. Now, he'll stay in Japan for at least one more season.
Earlier this week, Ken Davidoff of The New York Post wrote about how the Yankees offseason moves were designed to save enough money to sign Tanaka.
Now, expect their fans to panic. Without Tanaka available, New York will have to scramble to add a 200-inning arm behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. While they'll certainly miss the chance to land a pitcher of Tanaka's potential, the 2014 season isn't over in the Bronx.
With Brett Garnder as a trade chip, a legitimate rotation component can be acquired through trade. With money to burn, a free-agent starter like Matt Garza can fill the hole admirably.
Tanaka was a goal for the Yankees, but his extended stay in Japan shouldn't ruin New York's entire plan to compete in 2014.
Tampa Bay Is Asking Too Much for David Price: Fiction
Terry Pluto, long-time author and columnist in Cleveland, dropped this nugget in a column: during preliminary David Price trade conversations between the Rays and Indians, the names Carlos Santana, Danny Salazar and Francisco Lindor were floated by Tampa Bay.
Santana, you likely know. The switch-hitting catcher/first baseman is an offensive force, under contract through 2016 and owner of a career OPS+ of 130. Surrendering him, by himself, in a deal for Price would be costly for the mid-market Indians.
Salazar and Lindor, less well-known, would make a potential franchise-changing package for Tampa Bay.
The Rays asking price is astronomical, but it should be. Price is one of the best pitchers in the sport. And due to a contract that will keep him in Tampa through the 2015 season, the Rays don't have to move him now.
Ignore the noise of crazy asking demands. The Rays should ask for the moon, and they just might get it.
The Seattle Mariners Are out of Money to Improve Team: Fiction
Weeks after affording $240 million to second baseman Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners are suddenly shy about spending big money, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
According to Rosenthal's report, the Mariners are signalling a shift in attitude at the remaining free agents on the board. "Club officials are signaling to certain agents and others in the industry that the team is near its payroll limit, though certain exceptions may be made for the right player," said Rosenthal.
The idea of not giving 100 percent effort to win in 2014 is ridiculous after the Cano signing. After years of losing, the Mariners signaled a need to win quickly by inking the best player available.
Now, if opportunities to further improve present themselves, the team must act decisively.
Most likely, the rumor is just a tactic to lower the asking price of top free agents. If it's not, Seattle is in the midst of a strange winter.