Fact or Fiction on All of MLB Offseason Week 14's Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2016

Fact or Fiction on All of MLB Offseason Week 14's Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The unofficial end of baseball's offseason is quickly approaching. Pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to camp next week, and soon, we'll have a clear picture of how every team's roster is going to look on Opening Day.

    Of course, with a slew of notable free agents still available and both the inevitable injuries and surprise performances that come along with spring training, those pictures are sure to change. In fact, some teams could be ordering new photos before the exhibition games get underway.

    Has a team learned from its past mistakes? Does a contender still have enough trade chips to fill multiple holes? Could we see another free-agent defection within the NL Central?

    We'll tackle all of that and more in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction.

Fact: The Orioles Will Sign Yovani Gallardo

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    It looks as if Baltimore has finally learned its lesson.

    After failing to replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis last winter, the Orioles have had "a shift in thinking" and are toying with the idea of sacrificing the 14th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft to sign free-agent starter Yovani Gallardo, according to a report from MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko.

    Gallardo isn't an ace, and his arrival isn't going to elevate Baltimore's rotation from mediocre to masterful. But he's a consistent, reliable arm and has averaged 32 starts and 191 innings a year since 2009, pitching to a 3.69 ERA (3.62 xFIP) and 1.32 WHIP.

    Ultimately, the Orioles will come to the conclusion that, having thus far failed to replace Wei-Yin Chen in the rotation, it's a move they can't afford not to make. This is a team built to win now—a draft pick that, at best, is two to three years away from contributing can't factor into the team's decision-making process.

    Especially when that team has six of the first 100 picks in the draft. Baltimore can lose the 14th overall pick, still restock its farm system with young talent and put the big league club in far better shape to contend for a playoff spot than it currently is.

Fiction: The White Sox Will Trade for a Bat and a Starter

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    Robin Ventura and Rick Hahn
    Robin Ventura and Rick HahnJeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Don't count the Chicago White Sox among the list of teams that is satisfied with its roster heading into spring training. "We are still a work in progress," general manager Rick Hahn told CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine.

    “We are going to continue to work," Hahn said. "The marketplace still seems like it will be rather fluid for players right up until Opening Day."

    Not only are the White Sox looking for another bat, but according to Levine, they're also looking to add another starting pitcher as well.

    While that sounds good in theory, the White Sox simply don't have the pieces needed to swing two deals for impact players after using most of their trade chips to acquire Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie earlier in the offseason.

    Sure, they could include their remaining top prospects Tim Anderson, Carson Fulmer or Spencer Adams to facilitate a deal, but they're not going to. Unless the return is something close to an All-Star-caliber talent, adding complementary pieces at such a high cost just isn't worth it.

    Besides, there are still a number of options available via free agency, such as Mat Latos, Tim Lincecum and Alfredo Simon on the mound and Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson and Will Venable in the outfield.

    The White Sox can probably swing a deal for a back-end starter or corner outfielder without sacrificing one of their three best prospects. But they can't acquire both via trade. One of those holes will have to be filled in free agency.

Fact: Tampa Bay Won't Trade a Starting Pitcher Before Opening Day

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    Alex Cobb
    Alex CobbTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    It was only a few weeks ago that ESPN's Jerry Crasnick and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal both reported Tampa Bay was still engaged in trade discussions involving nearly every pitcher on its roster, aside from staff ace Chris Archer.

    But after trading reliever Jake McGee to Colorado, Tampa Bay has decided to keep its remaining arms, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. It's the right decision for the Rays, who have their sights set on contending in 2016.

    A rotation with Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore and Erasmo Ramirez has a chance to be pretty good, and with Alex Cobb returning from Tommy John surgery and top prospect Blake Snell nearly major league-ready, the Rays have depth to weather another injury.

    Should the club get off to a slow start, it can always revisit trade talks during the regular season, when other clubs may be more inclined to part with the kind of talent Tampa Bay is sure to seek in return.

Fiction: Dexter Fowler Will Wind Up in St. Louis

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    Brett Davis/Associated Press

    After watching Jason Heyward and John Lackey defect via free agency to the Chicago Cubs, it'd be fitting for the St. Louis Cardinals to sign Chicago's former center fielder, Dexter Fowler. It's a move MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince advocates—and for good reason.

    With Randal Grichuk coming off sports hernia surgery, and neither Grichuk nor Stephen Piscotty nor Tommy Pham proven in a 162-game schedule, the Cards can add a more bankable commodity to their outfield and solidify their leadoff spot, allowing Matt Carpenter to better capitalize on his power. Giving up the 25th overall pick to a division rival is a negligible concern here.

    That's sound reasoning, to be sure, and the addition of Fowler would certainly help a St. Louis lineup that struggled to score runs last season. But there's a catch.

    By signing Fowler, the Cardinals would be taking playing time away from the likes of Grichuk, Piscotty and, to a lesser degree, Pham. It's hard for a young player to prove himself over a 162-game schedule when he's not afforded the chance to play on a daily basis.

    Grichuk and Piscotty are part of the long-term plan in St. Louis, and Fowler is not. While it might be detrimental to the Cardinals' chances of contending in 2016 to pass on him, it's the right thing to do for the team's long-term future.

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).

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