BS Meter on All the MLB Winter Meetings' Top Free-Agency/Trade Rumors

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2017

BS Meter on All the MLB Winter Meetings' Top Free-Agency/Trade Rumors

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    MLB's winter meetings kicked off Sunday in Orlando, Florida. Just before that, slugger Giancarlo Stanton was traded from the Miami Marlins to the New York Yankees and two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani chose the Los Angeles Angels as his stateside destination.

    The logjam cleared, and a raft of seismic swaps and signings are coming.

    In the meantime, let's parse the latest rumors emanating from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and assign each a ranking on the B/R B.S. meter.

    For those new to the party: The meter features a one-to-five scale, with one being a near-lock and five being unmitigated B.S.

    Let's begin with another Marlins outfielder who may be dangling on the hook, then jump to a few top-shelf rotation and bullpen arms and, finally, one of the game's premier third basemen.  

Rumor: Miami Marlins Trade Marcell Ozuna

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    The Rumor: After trading Stanton to the Yankees and second baseman Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners, the Miami Marlins are listening to offers on outfielder Marcell Ozuna, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. 

    Analysis: The new ownership group fronted by Derek Jeter is looking to shed as much payroll as possible. 

    The curious thing with Ozuna is he's extremely good and not especially expensive. 

    The 27-year-old made his second consecutive All-Star appearance in 2017 while slashing .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs. He's entering his second year of arbitration eligibility. He'll get more than the $3.5 million he earned last season, but he isn't set to hit free agency until 2020 and is by no means a bank-breaker.

    If Jeter and Co. are committed to trading every non-scrub player on the roster, Ozuna will be gone. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported at least a half-dozen clubs are interested, including the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, both of whom swung and missed on Stanton.

    That said, Ozuna is a relatively young and eminently skilled player who isn't consuming a notable chunk of payroll. There's a compelling argument for keeping him in Florida, at least for now.

    B.S. Meter: Three

Rumor: New York Mets Trade Matt Harvey

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    The Rumor: After watching their once-vaunted rotation crumble into a heap of injury and underperformance in 2017, the New York Mets are willing to trade right-hander and ex-stud Matt Harvey, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

    Analysis: Other than Jacob deGrom, none of the Mets' presumed starting five had a good year. Noah Syndergaard made only seven starts while dealing with biceps and lat issues. Arm problems beset Zack Wheeler. Steven Matz underwent elbow surgery in August. 

    Harvey, meanwhile, posted a 6.70 ERA and failed to reach 100 innings.

    The Dark Knight went under the knife for Tommy John surgery in October 2013 and shoulder surgery in July 2016. At the same time, he posted a 2.71 ERA and fanned 188 hitters in 189.1 frames as recently as 2015 and turns 29 in March. There's hope for a comeback, even if it's flickering. 

    Harvey is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, meaning any club that acquired him would get a one-year reclamation project. The Mets couldn't command a king's ransom in trade.

    According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, New York discussed a swap with the Texas Rangers for 24-year-old Jurickson Profar, who owns a .229/.309/.329 slash line in 718 big league plate appearances. That should give you a frame of reference for the pitcher's standing.

    Most likely, after tendering Harvey a contract Dec. 1, the Mets will keep him in Queens and cross their fingers for better results.

    As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post correctly asked, "What's the point of selling low, after all, when you could have sold even lower and saved yourself some effort?"

    B.S. Meter: Four

Rumor: Texas Rangers Sign Yu Darvish

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    The Rumor: After missing out on Ohtani, the Texas Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels are interested in ace right-hander and former employee Yu Darvish, per Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.

    Analysis: The Rangers waved the white flag at the 2017 trade deadline and sent Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of prospects, including Willie Calhoun.

    Now, as they try to maintain contact with the world champion Houston Astros in the American League West, the Rangers need to add starting pitching to ostensible ace Cole Hamels and his 4.20 ERA.

    There are less expensive options than Darvish, who made four All-Star teams with the Rangers but missed the 2015 season to Tommy John surgery and notably wobbled in the postseason with the Dodgers.

    Still, he should command a nine-figure payday from someone. That's a budget-hindering outlay, though the Rangers rank among baseball's top 10 in payroll, per Spotrac

    That Texas would spend lavishly and Darvish would return to the only MLB home he'd known prior to a disappointing SoCal sojourn isn't a certaintybut it's not a fantasy, either.

    B.S. Meter: Two

Rumor: Colorado Rockies Sign Wade Davis

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    The Rumor: The Colorado Rockies are trying to acquire multiple relievers and have pursued closer Wade Davis, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

    Analysis: The Rockies returned to relevance in 2017 by snagging the NL's second wild-card slot, and their bullpen was a big reason.

    Colorado relievers posted a 4.40 ERA compared to 5.13 in 2016. Unfortunately for the Black and Purple faithful, closer Greg Holland and setup men Jake McGee and Pat Neshek all hit the market this winter.

    Neshek signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. McGee and Holland could soon follow him out of the Mile High City.

    Hence the rumors linking the Rockies to virtually every top reliever, including Davis, who posted a 2.30 ERA with 32 saves and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season for the Cubs.

    Davis is also 32 years old and would surely require an overpay to pitch in the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field. More likely, he'll opt for a destination where baseballs don't fly quite so far. 

    Recall, Holland was inked as a reclamation project coming off Tommy John, while Neshek and McGee were trade acquisitions. That, rather than a splashy signing, is the route Colorado will probably take.

    B.S. Meter: Four

Rumor: Tampa Bay Rays Trade Chris Archer

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Rumor: Clubs are calling about Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer, including the Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

    Analysis: This is nothing new. The Rays are a small-market squad always looking to boost their farm system, and Archer is a 29-year-old two-time All-Star locked into an affordable contract that could last through 2021 with a pair of team options.

    Each offseason and trade deadline brings Archer rumors, yet he stays put. Why should this be any different?

    It won't be, necessarily. Yet, after Darvish and Jake Arrieta, this year's free-agent pitching class is devoid of aces. And since the Yankees snagged Stanton and the loaded Boston Red Sox are poised to make a counter move, the Rays' contention hopes are dwindling in the AL East.

    Still, it would take a rich offer to pry Archer from Tampa Bay. The Cubs are an obvious match, but their farm system isn't what it used to be. Atlanta is reeling from its international-signing scandal and subsequent prospect purge

    Milwaukee, Minnesota and St. Louis are interesting possibilities, but each will likely wait for the free-agent market to develop.

    Archer may not finish his current contract in a Rays uniform, but the odds of his swapping laundry before Opening Day are even at best.

    B.S. Meter: Three

Rumor: Philadelphia Phillies Trade for Manny Machado

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The Rumor: The Baltimore Orioles are willing to listen on superstar third baseman Manny Machado, and the Philadelphia Phillies are "one of the more interested parties," per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.

    Analysis: Machado is 25 years old, has won two Gold Gloves and twice finished in the top five in American League MVP voting. Between 2015 and 2017, he ranked 10th in WAR, according to FanGraphs.

    He's a franchise cornerstone any club would love to build around. He's also set to test free agency after the 2018 season and would thus be an expensive one-year rental. 

    For a team on the verge of a championship, that might make sense. For the Phillies, who are in the midst of a rebuild and have a ton of cash to spend, it doesn't compute. 

    Why would the Phils surrender the trove of prospects Baltimore would rightly demand when they could wait till next winter and hurl only money at Machado?

    The third base market isn't bursting at the seams. But names such as Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier should satiate demand and leave Machado as an Oriole for nowthen as one of the prizes of the much-hyped 2018-19 class.

    B.S. Meter: Five

                                   

    All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.