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MLB Rumors Fact or Fiction: The Top 50 Offseason Rumors Exposed

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IDecember 7, 2010

MLB Rumors Fact or Fiction: The Top 50 Offseason Rumors Exposed

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    With player movement really heating up over the past week or two, the rumor mill has also put a couple of coals on the fire, leaving many fans to ponder just what is fact and what is fiction.

    Players such as Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Jason Werth (Nationals), and Mark Reynolds (Orioles) have all found new homes, but there are plenty of other players still on the hook rumored to be in cahoots with “interested” teams, or “close” to signing a new deal.

    Which reports are fact and which are fiction? Well, that’s what I am going to try and settle for you here today. Please keep in mind that I am reporting the most current news available at the time of this article.

The Rangers Are Pursuing SP Zack Greinke

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Landing Him: 20%

    Impact:

    The Rangers are not only pursuing the Royals ace as a possible replacement for Cliff Lee, but possibly as a rotation partner to Lee, reports FoxSports.com.

    It is also being reported that the Rangers “aren’t even close” to meeting the demands of the Royals, and if the Rangers would lose both Lee and Greinke, it would be a huge blow.

Cliff Lee Will Become a Yankee

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Neither.

    Chance of Happening: 75%

    Impact:

    As you will see, Mr. Lee will be mentioned quite a bit in this slide and with good reason. As for this floating rumor, the key is to read the auxiliary verb ”will.”

    While GM Brian Cashman is basically champing at the bit to try his hand at roping Lee into the loving arms of the Big Apple, the carousel of interested teams are also doing their best to hire Lee.

    Still, the Yankees are a hard team to say no to and an even harder team to outbid. His postseason abilities could have immediate payouts for the Yankees.

Cliff Lee Will Remain a Ranger

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Chance of Staying: 5%

    Impact:

    It’s almost going to be impossible for the Texas Rangers to hang onto Cliff Lee, given who they will inevitably have to compete against.

    SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers were planning to offer Lee a four-year deal, but “competition can change plans.” The fact is, the Rangers can't financially compete against the Phillies, Red Sox or Yankees.

    The Rangers will have plenty of options to explore, though, so this could wind up being a blessing in disguise.

Washington Nationals Interested In Cliff Lee

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Chance of Being True - None

    Impact:

    Sure the Nationals would love to land a big-time arm like Lee, but the fact of this little rumor is, the Nats are not kicking the tires on Lee and simply don’t have any cash to offer a long-term deal.

    After forking over the farm to outfielder Jayson Werth, the Nats are basically looking to penny pinch in their future endeavors and simply don’t have the buying power to compete with the big boys of the league.

Carl Crawford Close To A Deal With Red Sox

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Fiction

    Chance of a Deal Soon: 20%

    Impact:

    The fact of this rumor is that Crawford is getting wise to how things work in the free-agent market and his representatives want to wait and see if the Yankees are in fact in the hunt for Crawford’s service.

    This would allow them to increase Crawford’s price, but as long as the Yanks focus on Cliff Lee—their primary target—Crawford could be waiting a long time to ink any deal with this approach.

    It could impact how the Red Sox approach solving for 'X' with their outfield, with Werth already off the market.

Brandon Webb To The Pirates

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Chance of a Deal: 1%

    Impact:

    There were ongoing talks between the Pirates and Brandon Webb, but those talks have since gone cold, leaving the Cubs, Nationals and Rangers as the primary suitors.

    To be honest, the Cubs right now have the best edge to sign Webb, with Texas trying to hang onto Lee, and the Nats' recent signing of Jayson Werth.

    As a slider pitcher, he would find a nice home in Wrigley Field.

Toronto Leaning Towards Carlos Pena

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of a Deal: 70%

    Impact:

    The Blue Jays are being reported as “in hard” on the first baseman’s services. The Blue Jays could utilize Pena at either first base, or as a DH—where he would probably be a better fit.

    The Jays could also get Pena at a very cheap price, considering last year’s poor hitting campaign.

Oakland A’s Making Move On Adrian Beltre

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Chance of a Move: None

    Impact;

    Here’s a rumor that was, at one time, fact. But it now appears that the A’s are out and focusing on other players, reports Buster Olney on Twitter.

    There have been conflicting rumors regarding Beltre’s asking price as well.  Olney reported a five-year, $70-million asking price, while Ken Rosenthal reports a five-year $85-million asking price.

    Either way, Beltre will be seeking a hefty deal for the long-term and becomes more available now that Adrian Gonzalez is in town.

Nolan Ryan Asked Andy Pettitte To Join Rangers

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    Pool/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Plain and simple, Ryan never asked Pettitte to join the Rangers. Rather, if he was simply going to retire or not…ooops, did I just give away the next slide?

Andy Pettitte To Retire

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Neither

    Chance of Retirement: 50/50

    Impact:

    As it stands right now, there is a little from column A and a little from column B. A source close to Andy Pettitte told Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports.com that he will be back for one more year, while Marc Craig (Star Ledger) on Twitter has reported that “Pettitte told Cash he was leaning toward calling it quits after the season. First time Pettitte has ever done that.”

    Too early to know what will happen, but definitely one story line to watch.

Angels Focused On Landing Rafael Soriano

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Deal: 85%

    Impact:

    Olney confirms this rumor as truth on ESPN.com, and it has been no secret that the Angels have been interested since Day 1.

    Soriano will be seeking a three- to four-year deal, and he is clearly the best closer on the FA market right now.

Jamie Moyer To Retire

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    There is no truth to the rumor of Jamie Moyer‘s supposed retirement and, in fact, Moyer has said that he looks forward to the challenge of returning in 2012 from Tommy John surgery.

Russell Martin’s Days As A Dodger Are Over

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Staying in L.A.: 5%

    Impact:

    The Dodgers have non-tendered Martin. While Martin can still stay in LA, his chances aren’t looking too good, but he is reportedly fielding offers from teams on the East Coast, which would bring him closer to home.

Dodgers interested in Johnny Damon

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Becoming A Dodger.: 65%

    Impact:

    Johnny Damon is definitely one player the Dodgers are interested in, despite the move making no sense whatsoever to me.

    He is a poor defender with limited range in the outfield, 37, and on a significant decline. At this point in his career, a DH post on an AL team would be a proper gig.

    One way or another, Damon will not be a Tiger next year.

Dodgers Interested in Jason Varitek

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    There was some interest by the Dodgers as they continue to explore options at the catcher position, but Varitek has been retained by Boston.

The Diamondbacks Making a Bid For Paul Konerko

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Fiction

    Chance of Being Traded: 1%

    Impact:

    It was reported earlier this week that the D-backs pitched a deal, but Olney says that there has been virtually no dialogue between Konerko and the D-Backs.

    It is safe to assume that Konerko will be “back in black”—and white—in April.

Pablo Sandoval Could Begin Season On Bench

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    Fact

    100% True

    Impact:

    This is actually true, believe it or not. The Giants were significantly concerned with Kung Fu Panda’s weight and conditioning and basically told him there is no guarantee of a starting gig if there is no improvement.

    To Sandoval’s credit, he has already dropped 15 pounds, which does help his cause.

Dodgers To Trade For Prince Fielder

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    GM Ned Colletti has shot down the latest rumor of the club being in a trade talk for Prince Fielder, ending what has got to be the shortest-lived rumor surrounding any player this year by far.

James Loney To Washington For Ian Desmond

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Fiction

    Chance of Being Traded to Washington: 1%

    Impact:

    Well, sort of. The Nats do have interest in Loney, but would have to give up not only shortstop Ian Desmond, but also right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmerman which the team has no interest in doing, reports MLB.com on the Nats Town page.

Nationals Unlikely To Sign Carl Pavano

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Being Traded to Washington: 25%

    Impact:

    For now, this appears to be the case according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The reason is, the Nats don’t want to offer Pavano a multi-year deal, which is a bit curious considering the Nats had to know Pavano was seeking a multi-year deal.

    Oh well, such is the funny world of player movement in the MLB.

Vladimir Guerrero To Rejoin Rangers

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Being Brought Back: 35%

    Impact:

    I know, I know but as curious as it may sound, Vlad is trying his best to come back to Texas and the Rangers haven’t ruled out the possibility.

    It would really help his case, though, if he would come down from his cloud and realize he won’t achieve the multi-year deal he is asking from anyone, let alone the Rangers.

Scott Downs To The Yankees

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    Brad White/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    Cliff Lee, remember? He won’t land in Boston or Los Angeles (Angels), either.

Carl Crawford Eyeing Texas

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Landing Him: 38%

    Impact:

    Crawford has drawn interest from Texas in addition to the Yankees and Angels, and reportedly has the Rangers high on his list.

    Arlington would be dream park to hit in, since its hitter-friendly confines would melt together nicely with his power.

    Crawford would also serve as an excellent addition to the lineup due to his multi-threat presence as a hitter and a base stealer.

Diamondbacks Interested in Derrek Lee

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Landing Lee: 41%

    Impact:

    The deal is the Diamondbacks are looking to replace—very inexpensively might I add—Mark Reynolds who left for Baltimore. Derrek Lee won’t command a large deal or a lucrative one so this deal could actually happen.

    Lee hit .260/.347/.428 last year with a mere 19 homers with Chicago and Atlanta, a batting line he could significantly improve upon if he were to play at Chase Field.

Mets Interested in Chris Young

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Signing Him: 39%

    Impact:

    The Mets are in fact interested in the 31-year-old right-hander, as well as Jeff Francis. Why they are interested in a 31-year-old pitcher with known shoulder issues is beyond my comprehension, but hey, whatever works for them.

Justin Upton Will Be Traded Before April

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    His days of flirting with the open market appear to be over, but the possibility of the D-Backs trying again in July—if the club is out of contention—is still a possibility.

Mets Shopping Jose Reyes

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Dealing Reyes Before April: 15%

    Impact:

    The Mets are open to “listening” to offers regarding Reyes, and would entertain shopping the shortstop if the price was right, but as it stands now, there has been little interest at best.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets hold off and try to deal him halfway through the season.

Pirates Have Interest in Jason Bartlett

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Landing Bartlett: 18%

    Impact:

    The Pirates are trying their best to find a quality shortstop and Bartlett does fit that bill.

    The Pirates failed to make a deal for Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy earlier this week, so we could hear of a forthcoming move in the coming weeks.

Jake Peavy Unlikely To Start The Season

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Neither.

    Peavy is scheduled to possibly start his first game come the first of May. The deal is, though, it is almost impossible to really know when he’ll be back from recovery (back surgery to fix a detached lat from his back), since the injury is incredibly rare in a baseball player.

Marco Scutaro Will Return To Boston

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    More Fiction than Fact.

    Chance of Being Dealt: 65%

    Impact:

    Here’s the deal: Scutaro has drawn interest from several teams. The Red Sox have Jed Lowrie as a replacement.

    Scutaro is looking for a multi-year deal. The Red Sox could try to trade for a middle reliever.

    In the end, I believe Scutaro will find a new home, and the Red Sox will somehow get what they want out of his exodus.

Orlando Hudson To Hit The Open Market

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Hudson Finding a New Home: 95%

    Impact:

    Hudson declined arbitration from the Twins, as expected, and will now see what fish come-a-bitin'.

    One rumor is that the Cardinals could come knockin’ on the door with Brendan Ryan being the odd man out in St Louis, but I can’t see them giving the type of picks the Twins want in return.

Dan Uggla Is A Greedy Second Baseman

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Fact.

    The guy turns down a four-year, $48 million deal offered by the Marlins, gets traded to the Braves, and still makes no guarantee to them unless he gets an extension worth more than what the Marlins were offering?

    How much does this guy actually think he’s worth?

Jesse Crain Unlikely To Stay In Minnesota

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Staying in Minnesota: 9%

    Impact:

    The truth of the matter is Crain will more than likely seek a deal that is out of the Twins’ range, and this problem could also expand into their bullpen with Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes and Matt Guerrier.

    Needless to say, the Twins will have to find some other arms, because Joe Nathan and Pat Neshek can’t carry this team.

Baltimore Orioles Interested in Kevin Gregg

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of a Deal: 55%

    Impact:

    The O's just traded David Hernandez as part of the Mark Reynolds deal and Koji Uehara hasn’t been signed yet, so the O’s will have to grab at least one reliever, and Gregg could be that value arm they have been looking for.

    Gregg is a quality arm that can act as a closer or a set up man, for pennies on the dollar.

Indians, Tigers and Mets, Oh My! All Interested in Fred Lewis

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Fact.

    The Blue Jays curiously non-tendered Lewis after hitting .262/.332/.414 in 480 plate appearances, but this move may be for the better of the club considering the bevy of new directions it is looking to go in.

    The Mets seem the least likely team to land Lewis. Detroit and Cleveland could both make hard runs at him.

Phillies Interested in Juan Rivera

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Rivera Coming To Philadelphia: 50%

    Impact:

    That isn’t the problem for Phillies’ fans. The problem is GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is already hesitant in handing over the job to Domonic Brown and is actively looking for a potential platoon player.

    The Phillies could move on Rivera, but would have to soak up the remaining $5.25 million owed to him.

    Rivera is coming off a down 2010 season in which he batted .252/.312/.409, but he hit .287/.332/.478 with 25 homers the previous season and could be a fine insurance policy for Philadelphia, but not a long-term answer.

Pedro Martinez To Make Another Comeback

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Martinez has recently expressed an interest in returning to the majors and playing for a winner, reports Enrique Rojas on Twitter.

    He downplayed the rumors of training with the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League, but either way, a return could yield numerous phone calls, even if he is 39.

A.J. Pierzynski Almost Became A Dodger

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Fact.

    According to Peter Gammons, Pierzynski was “a minute away” from inking a deal before GM Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in.

    A.J. will now make $2 million in 2011 and $6 million in 2012 on the contract he signed earlier this week with the White Sox.

Yankees Interested in Utility Man Bill Hall

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Becoming a Yankee: 15%

    Impact:

    Well get in line, New York, because there are seven other teams ahead of you, and you’re already making eyes towards Cliff Lee.

    Hall hit well, defended well, and played his role well for the Red Sox last year, so he will find a new home easily, and New York could be a reality considering their penchant for grabbing DH guys off the market.

    If anything, he could be a nice replacement for Lance Berkman.

Pirates Interested in Matt Diaz

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of a Deal: 45%

    Impact:

    According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Matt Diaz is on GM Neal Huntington's radar.

    Huntington is looking for a corner outfielder who has pop in his hitting and can hit left-handed pitchers really well. That just happens to be Diaz’s penchant.

Magglio Ordonez To Stay In Detroit

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Fact.

    According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, and now Carlos V. Rodriguez, it is likely that Ordonez will stay in Detroit. The Tigers did decline salary arbitration in November, but that was probably due to the crazy salary write up that looked like this:

    2011: $15-million club option (both option years guaranteed w/135 starts or 540 PA in '09 or 270 starts or 1,080 PA between '08 and '09, 2010 option increases to $18 million under those circumstances)

    Well that, and they were probably hoping to get in on the FA market before the winter meetings. Ordonez can still serve as a quality bat at the DH, and could also serve as a suitable mentor.

Rockies Interested In Bengie Molina

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of a Deal: 28%

    Impact:

    The Rockies are looking for that second catcher behind Chris Iannetta, and Bengie Molina could wind up fitting that bill. Molina was flirting with retirement, but he could field an offer from Colorado if it suited him well.

    Not really a good fit for the Rockies, though, as Molina hit a dismal .249/.297/.326 with five home runs and 36 RBI.

Manny Ramirez To Retire

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Retirement: 70%

    Impact:

    While there hasn’t been an official word saying so, there was an interesting report from Buster Olney, in which he gathered reports from GMs, talent evaluators, and even executives regarding Ramirez. The consensus was Manny is no better than a DH hitter who can barely hit for average.

    His power has significantly taken a hit and he isn’t the greatest defender. Don’t be too surprised if this becomes a reality.

Jim Thome To Retire

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Fiction.

    There were a couple of reports floating around that Jim Thome was “considering” retirement, but that simply was not true.

    The truth was, after last season, Thome was going to discuss his future with his family, but was leaning towards returning, and his return has now been confirmed. The Twins will try to re-sign the big man.

    Thome is a lifetime .278 hitter who consistently hits 20 or more HRs every year (except one, 2005 PHI, and the first three years of his career). His presence in Minnesota has been huge.

Jays To Send Shaun Marcum To Brewers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Deal: 100%

    Impact:

    According to a story originally run in the Milwaukee Journal, and later confirmed by both clubs, the Blue Jays plan to send Marcum to the Brewers for Canadian second baseman Brett Lawrie.

    Marcum went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA, a stat line that could improve in the NL Central.

Cubs Interested in James Loney

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Deal: 45%

    Impact:

    Another team that has expressed interest in Loney has been the Chicago Cubs, a team that first inquired about Loney at the general manager’s meeting in mid-November when they were originally told he wasn’t being moved.

    Inevitably, though, the Cubs should suffer the same fate Washington did, with L.A. asking for more than the Cubs can offer.

Red Sox Interested in Josh Willingham

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Deal: 40%

    Impact:

    The Red Sox have in fact expressed interest in Josh Willingham as they continue to seek other explorable options for the outfield.

    Willingham has hit 20 homers in the last two seasons and could fit nicely in Boston.

Braves Showing Interest in Lorenzo Cain

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Deal: 23%

    Impact:

    The Braves are showing interest in trading for Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain. They are also very capable of providing the Brewers with the talented, young pitching prospects they're seeking in exchange for Cain, so this is the sort of deal that has a high probability of happening.

    Cain hit .306 with a .763 OPS and seven stolen bases in 43 games with Milwaukee this past summer. Cain has also hit .291 with a .366 on-base percentage during a six-year minor league career.

    If the Braves acquired Cain, he would provide immediate insurance. Cain could conceivably serve as the every day center fielder if Nate McLouth's struggles extend into the upcoming season.

Adam LaRoche Interested in Playing For Washington

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche has interest in playing for the Nationals and his representatives are expected to meet with the club in the next couple of days.

    The Nationals have had their eyes on LaRoche for some time now. He is a solid defensive first baseman and is coming off the best season of his career, hitting .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs for the D-backs.

    It will be interesting to see what exactly the Nats offer LaRoche, who avoided arbitration last year by signing a one-year, $7.05 million contract.

Reds Receiving Offers For Yonder Alonso

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Fact.

    Chance of Reds Dealing Him: 10%

    Impact:

    The Reds are indeed getting trade inquiries for prospect first baseman/outfielder Yonder Alonso, reports the Cincinnati Inquirer, but general manager Walt Jocketty said they aren't inclined to move him.

    "Right now, Yonder is a guy who still figures in the organization," said Jocketty. "He gives us protection (at first base). He believes that he’s working this winter to compete for a spot on the bench. He’s played some first and left field. He could be a left handed-hitter off the bench."

    Alonso batted .290/.362/.458 with 15 homers and 69 RBI over 506 at-bats between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville.

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