Fact or Fiction on All This Week's Hottest MLB Free-Agency, Trade Rumors
Last week, Bleacher Report's Seth Gruen wrote that a lack of big free agents will make this year's hot-stove league feel like the trade deadline. After what we've seen and heard over the past week, we can say that's a fact.
Other than some relatively mild free-agent innuendo—things along the lines of "Team X has interest in this veteran outfielder...and four others"—most of the rumor-mill chatter has revolved around potential trade scenarios that beg more questions than they provide answers.
How willing will teams be to meet the price an All-Star has put on waiving his no-trade clause? Is one team ready to make the jump from rebuilding to redemption? Would a non-contender trade away its best player?
We'll hit on all that and more in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction.
Fact: Atlanta Will Trade for a Front-Line Starter
Atlanta wasted little time in cherry-picking a pair of veteran innings-eaters from a mediocre crop of free-agent starting pitchers, signing Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey to one-year deals.
"We're looking for guys to suck up innings so that we don't have to kill our bullpen," general manager John Coppolella told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman, during the press conference to announce the Dickey signing. "We've been real transparent about what it is we want to do: add guys that can eat innings on short-term deals."
But that was only the first step in the team's offseason plan. ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that the Braves "are aggressively swapping offers for starting pitchers" with other clubs.
Those pitchers could very well be Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, Oakland's Sonny Gray and Chicago's Chris Sale, starters who Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball and Bowman recently reported the team had interest in.
With payroll flexibility and a deep farm system, the Braves have the ability to pull off such a deal.
Adding a legitimate ace to a rotation that now features Julio Teheran, Colon and Dickey would not only accelerate the team's rebuilding process, but could very well thrust the Braves back into contention for a playoff berth in 2017.
Fiction: Ian Kinsler Will Get His Contract Extension
Ian Kinsler can block trades to 10 teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers—a team that has discussed a potential deal for the second baseman with the Detroit Tigers, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi. But that doesn't mean the veteran second baseman wouldn't consider signing off on a deal with one of those clubs.
"If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we're open to talking about it," Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "[But] they're going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade."
Brandon Phillips would be proud.
Kinsler, 34, remains one of the game's elite second basemen, and his contract, which pays him $11 million in 2017 and has a $10 million team option for 2018 (with a $5 million buyout) isn't the sort of onerous deal that other teams would struggle to fit into their payroll.
Any extension Kinsler signs would kick in when he's 36 years old. You won't find many teams eager to make a long-term commitment to a player that's closer to 40 than he is to 30.
Fact: Minnesota Should Trade Brian Dozier
Detroit isn't the only American League Central team with a second baseman who could be traded. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Minnesota's Brian Dozier has drawn interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he didn't indicate how receptive the Twins were to the idea.
They should be very receptive.
Coming off a career year that saw him hit .268 with 42 home runs, 99 RBI and a .886 OPS, the 29-year-old Dozier is a bargain financially, due just $15 million through the 2018 season. His value will never be higher than it is right now.
With the Twins unlikely to contend in 2017 and in desperate need of pitching, dealing Dozier makes a lot of sense. Minnesota already has an in-house replacement in prospect Jorge Polanco, who is ready for regular playing time in the majors and profiles best as a second baseman.
No one's advocating that the Twins give Dozier away, but if they can get the young, controllable, high-end pitching they need, it's a move that has to be made.
Fiction: Brian McCann to Houston Is Dead
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that trade talks between Houston and New York about catcher Brian McCann have hit a snag, but that doesn't mean there's no chance of a deal being struck.
It's unclear whether the issue is related to McCann's contract, which has $34 million and two years remaining; McCann's full no-trade clause; or the pieces that would be going back to the Yankees in a potential deal.
But this is a deal that makes too much sense for both teams to not get done.
McCann's left-handed bat would bring some balance to Houston's righty-heavy lineup and allow the club to use Evan Gattis as its primary designated hitter. Injecting McCann's leadership and personality into a relatively young clubhouse looking to get over the hump would be an added bonus.
With Gary Sanchez entrenched as the Yankees' starting catcher and Austin Romine a capable backup, McCann has become expendable. While it's understandable that the club doesn't want to pick up any of the money left on his deal, doing so would theoretically result in a better package in return.
Fact: Zack Cozart Will Wind Up in Seattle
While Seattle ultimately didn't acquire Zack Cozart from Cincinnati at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Mariners remain interested in the 31-year-old shortstop, according to the News Tribune's Bob Dutton.
But the Mariners consider a trade for the six-year veteran a luxury rather than a necessity, according to a team official who recently talked about the situation with Dutton:
We don't need a shortstop. We have Marte, and we think he's going to be fine in the long term. Now could he benefit from some additional development time in the minors? Yes.
We did that with (Mike) Zunino, and we think that really helped him. But it's not the same. Zunino absolutely needed that development time. With Marte, we think it would be beneficial, but it's not a must.
In other words, the Mariners would trade for Cozart, but there are limits on what they'd give up to do so.
That shouldn't be an issue for Cincinnati. While getting something of value in return is a must, it makes no sense for the Reds to have Cozart at shortstop on Opening Day.
He's not part of the team's long-term plans and has missed time in each of the past two seasons due to injury. His continued presence means Jose Peraza, who the Reds hope will be a big part of their future, can't get the regular playing time he needs.
Like the potential Brian McCann-to-Houston deal we just looked at, this deal makes sense for both sides.