Playing Fact or Fiction with All of MLB's Hottest 2016 Winter Meetings Buzz

Seth Gruen@SethGruenFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2016

Playing Fact or Fiction with All of MLB's Hottest 2016 Winter Meetings Buzz

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    Like a cotton candy maker, baseball's winter meetings tend to spit out anything that sticks.

    Sure, deals are made like the one that saw Chris Sale traded to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. But speculation, more than anything, is the product of the meetings.

    It's tough to determine which of the hottest thoughts, rumors and conjecture might end up being true, but we'll give it a try and play or fiction with what has emerged thus far from baseball's annual conclave.

Fiction: The Boston Red Sox Are the Golden State Warriors of MLB

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    On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox sent baseball's winter meetings into a frenzy when the team announced it had acquired left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for top prospect Yoan Moncada, pitcher Michael Kopech, pitcher Victor Diaz and outfielder Luis Basabe.

    The move sparked reaction throughout baseball, but none more notable than that of rival New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who dubbed the Red Sox the "Golden State Warriors of baseball" in an interview with reporters.

    Cashman was referring to the NBA franchise that added star forward Kevin Durant last offseason, just months removed from setting the league's record for regular-season wins.

    His point is taken. Boston is now the favorite to win the AL East and a serious World Series contender after adding one of baseball's dominant pitchers.

    But his comparison is a stretch.

    Last season, the Red Sox won their division by only four games. The Warriors secured the NBA's best record of all time during the 2015-16 season, winning their division by 20 games.

    Furthermore, the Chicago Cubs had MLB's best record in 2016 and return every core player in 2017. Chicago returns its top four starters from a rotation that was statistically MLB's best in 2016.

    The Cubs should be considered the favorite to win the World Series again in 2017. The Red Sox should not, even though their acquisition of Sale gives them one of baseball's best starting rotations.

Fact: Andrew McCutchen Will Play for the Washington Nationals in 2017

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    For the Washington Nationals, 2016 NL Rookie of the Year finalist Trea Turner is proving to be the lynchpin of the offseason.

    According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, the Nationals, who had high interest in Sale, lost out on the deal because of their unwillingness to send Turner to Chicago.

    That's because the team is looking to move Turner from the center field position he manned in 2016 to his natural shortstop position in 2017. That leaves a vacancy in the middle of the outfield, one the Nationals need to fill this offseason.

    A trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for center fielder Andrew McCutchen suits both teams perfectly. The Nationals have reportedly had interest in McCutchen for weeks now. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that now that the Nationals have lost out on Sale, McCutchen is their top priority.

    McCutchen, having lost some of the speed that is so crucial to his game, is no longer the cornerstone player he was just a few years ago with the Pirates. But to a Nationals team loaded with talent, he's a winning piece still capable of being a secondary hitter in a lineup.

    The Pirates, meanwhile, are looking for controllable starting pitching. The Nationals have young pitchers in Joe Ross and Lucas Giolito that they could deal to Pittsburgh.

Fact: The Chicago White Sox Aren’t Done Moving Players

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    Chris Sale was merely the first of many Chicago White Sox players who could be dealt this winter, an indication the team is firmly entrenched in a rebuild.

    If that is the case, starting pitcher Jose Quintana, third baseman Todd Frazier, first baseman Jose Abreu, closer David Robertson and outfielder Adam Eaton are among the players who could be moved in exchange for prospects or young, controllable major leaguers.

    Joe Giglio of NJ.com noted the New York Yankees and New York Mets could end up targeting Robertson. Jon Morosi of MLB Network (h/t ESPN.com) reported the White Sox are more likely to trade Eaton than Abreu. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers have shown interest in Frazier.

    Considering all the talk involving current White Sox players, it's almost a certainty the club will make another deal this offseason.

Fiction: The Baltimore Orioles Are No Longer Interested in Mark Trumbo

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    Reports have emerged, including from ESPN's Buster Olney, that the Baltimore Orioles and Mark Trumbo are far apart in negotiations that would bring the slugger back to the club in 2017. That doesn't mean interest is waning, though.

    Though MLB's home run leader in 2016 has multiple suitors, it would make sense for both parties to come to an agreement. The Orioles can ill afford to lose a bat of his caliber, given that the AL East will likely be baseball's most competitive division in 2017.

    Trumbo was traded to Baltimore last offseason and posted easily the best season of his seven-year career with 47 homers and 108 RBI. He is clearly comfortable playing there.

    Players and organizations often initially appear far apart in negotiations, but that's often posturing by each side. Obviously, it's important to have the upper hand in any negotiation.