Playing Fact or Fiction with All of MLB's Hottest Week 21 Buzz and Rumors

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2016

Playing Fact or Fiction with All of MLB's Hottest Week 21 Buzz and Rumors

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    A month ago, it looked like the defending World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals, were nothing more than an afterthought in the playoff picture. As we prepare to head into the final month of baseball's regular season, though, the Royals sit in the thick of the AL playoff race.

    But Kansas City isn't the only team making noise. Has an untimely injury knocked a contender out of the running? Does a slugger's desire to stay with his current team mean that he will?

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

Fact: Carlos Ruiz Will Be Traded; Ryan Howard Won't

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, the last remnants of Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship club, have both cleared waivers and are free to be traded to any team, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark.

    Of course, there's a better chance of the Eagles going 16-0 this season or the 76ers winning an NBA title than there is of Howard being dealt. But Ruiz? He's a different story.

    The 37-year-old remains solid defensively and at the plate, hitting .261 with a .719 OPS, while his postseason experience would be invaluable for a contender down the stretch. Those are all likely reasons why Stark hears that two teams were "mulling Ruiz."

    I'd speculate that one of those teams is the Cleveland Indians, a team that has gotten almost no offensive production from its catchers this season. It wouldn't at all be surprising to see Ruiz wind up behind the plate for the Tribe before the end of August.

Fiction: Josh Hamilton Will Be a Texas Ranger in 2017

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Texas general manager Jon Daniels didn't close the door on Josh Hamilton's career with the Rangers in announcing the team's decision to request release waivers on the injured 35-year-old.

    “We plan to monitor Josh’s progress as he continues his rehab process and is medically cleared this winter,” Daniels told reporters, per the Dallas Morning NewsEvan Grant. “Given the rules in place, releasing him before the end of this month allows us to keep the door open to extending the relationship in the future.”

    Hamilton, who hasn't played at all in 2016 after undergoing knee surgery earlier this year, figures to sign a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training once he's medically cleared. But it's hard to envision a scenario in which he's on Texas' Opening Day roster.

    He's blocked in the outfield corners by Shin-Soo Choo and Nomar Mazara, while Joey Gallo figures to get the bulk of the playing time as the team's designated hitter.

Fact: Baltimore Will Try to Add Another Starting Pitcher

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    With the news that staff ace Chris Tillman has landed on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Baltimore's biggest weakness, its starting rotation, has now become its biggest obstacle to staying in the playoff race down the stretch.

    A rotation of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez, who will take Tillman's place on the hill Thursday, doesn't scare anyone—except Orioles fans. Baltimore has no choice but to scour the waiver wire for an experienced arm who can keep things close.

    But with less than a week to go before the waiver-trade window closes and teams chasing the Orioles in a position to block Baltimore from submitting a claim, the O's may never get the chance to do so.

Fiction: Yoenis Cespedes Won't Opt Out of His Deal After the Season

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    "Yes" was Yoenis Cespedes' answer when asked by the Record's Matt Ehalt about whether he planned on honoring the three-year, $75 million deal he signed with the New York Mets last winter, forgoing his chance to opt out of the contract after this season, per the Record's Bob Klapisch.

    "I’ve said it before my intentions of course are to be here for three years," Cespedes later told Ehalt. "If I can spend the rest of my career with the Mets, I would.” But intentions and decisions are two different things—and Cespedes says that no decision has been made.

    While he genuinely seems to enjoy playing in New York, his agents undoubtedly realize that Cespedes would be one of, if not the most sought-after bat in what is shaping up to be an incredibly weak free-agent market.

    Unless the Mets decide to offer him a sizable extension before the end of the regular season, expect Team Cespedes to see what other teams have to offer once the offseason officially begins.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs and are current through games of Aug. 24. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).

    Hit me up on Twitter to talk the waiver trade window and all things baseball:@RickWeinerBR