Fact or Fiction on All of Week 7's Hottest MLB Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2016

Fact or Fiction on All of Week 7's Hottest MLB Free-Agency, Trade Rumors

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    What do baseball's rumor mill and winter storm Decima have in common? Both are running roughshod across the country and it's anyone's guess as to how much of what they're spitting out is actually going to stick.

    Can a team ever have too many outfielders? Is it a former All-Star closer's destiny to wind up in Washington, D.C.? Can two big market teams really be out of spending cash?

    Hopefully our predictions are more accurate than your local meteorologist's as we'll hit on all that and more in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction.

Fact: Colorado Won't Trade Charlie Blackmon

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Despite the team's stated intention to play the recently signed Ian Desmond at first base, trade speculation hasn't stopped swirling around Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon. That's for good reason.

    After all, Desmond has never played the position, and there's no shortage of experienced free-agent first basemen available, from the high-priced Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo to less expensive choices like Chris Carter or Brandon Moss.

    But as general manager Jeff Bridich recently told MLB.com's Thomas Harding, the Rockies have no intention of deviating from their Opening Day vision, which includes Blackmon in center field:

    I told him to take all the rumors and everything that he might be reading with a huge grain of salt. As the situation was with [Carlos Gonzalez] over the past few years, there are teams that are doing their jobs and doing their due diligence and calling on our guys.

    But we have never come out and said, 'We want or need to trade Charlie Blackmon.' I felt like he needed to hear it from me. Unless he saw something directly attributed to me, he could take everything else with a grain of salt.

    While Blackmon's value is as high as it'll ever be, with the 30-year-old coming off a career year and having two years of team control remaining,  there's no reason to take Bridich's comments with the same grain of salt.

    If the team was going to trade Blackmon, he'd have already been dealt.

Fiction: The Dodgers Can Land Brian Dozier Without Dealing Jose De Leon

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    Darin Wallentine/Getty Images

    Brian Dozier is one of the most valuable second basemen in baseball, not only because of his play on the field, but his team-friendly contract, which pays him a total of $15 million through 2018. The Minnesota Twins know that and aren't about to trade him for anything less than a massive return.

    That return, for a pitching-starved franchise like the Twins, figures to include at least one young, controllable, front-of-the-rotation arm; someone like Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jose De Leon.

    While the Dodgers have a gaping hole at second base that they'd like to fill with Dozier, sources tell ESPN.com's Doug Padilla that the team is "reluctant to part with" their prized right-handed pitching prospect to get a deal done for the slugging second baseman.

    It's true, as FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman aptly noted, that Los Angeles has multiple prospects who are sure to be of interest to the Twins. But unless the Dodgers decide to make 20-year-old Julio Urias available—and they're not—the Twins are sure to insist on De Leon's inclusion.

    Unlike the rest of L.A.'s young arms, the 24-year-old De Leon is ready to step in and contribute to a big-league rotation on Opening Day. That's something the Twins desperately need. Of course, he alone won't be enough to pry Dozier loose.

    Other prospects, including first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, second baseman Willie Calhoun and outfielder Alex Verdugo, are sure to be among those the two teams discuss. But De Leon is the one non-negotiable part of any package that would make Dozier a Dodger.

Fact: Joey Bats Will Wind Up Back in Toronto

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Bat flips, brawls and bombs have cemented Jose Bautista as a legendary figure in Toronto over the past nine years. It's become difficult, quite frankly, to envision Joey Bats in a different uniform.

    After you read Jon Paul Morosi's recent breakdown of the 36-year-old's market for MLB.com, it's a vision that seems highly unlikely to ever become reality. Neither the New York Yankees nor the San Francisco Giants seem interested, while the Boston Red Sox have already told his agent they can't afford him.

    Washington's recent trade for Adam Eaton likely takes them out of the running, while the Baltimore Orioles (and, probably, the Texas Rangers) won't touch him due to animosity felt toward the veteran slugger by their respective clubhouses and fans alike.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers remain a possibility, but Morosi believes they're more likely to trade for an outfielder than sign a high-priced free agent. With all of those teams out of the running, Bautista doesn't have a whole slew of contenders left to choose from.

    Toronto is one of the few remaining that needs a corner outfielder and a big bat in the middle of its lineup. There's no worry about how he'd fit in the clubhouse or be received by the fans.

    Re-signing with the Blue Jays isn't just the smart choice for Bautista—it might very well be his only choice.

Fiction: David Robertson Will Be Washington's Closer

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported last week that Washington tried—unsuccessfully—to convince the Chicago White Sox to include closer David Robertson in the Adam Eaton trade. That did little to stifle speculation that Robertson would ultimately join the Nationals, however.

    It certainly makes sense that a Robertson-to-the-Nationals deal would come to fruition; the White Sox are very familiar with Washington's farm system, and it's easy to imagine that the two sides at least tossed around some names during the Eaton negotiations that could be involved in a trade for D-Rob.

    That said, it seems unlikely that the Nationals will have any interest in continuing to trade away its best young talent, outfielder Victor Robles and right-handed starter Erick Fedde, both of whom figure to be at-or-near the top of Chicago's wish list and figure to be off-limits at this point.

    Robertson might be the best closer available, but he's far from the only option. Santiago Casilla, Greg Holland, Sergio Romo and Brad Ziegler are among the crop of unsigned free agents, while Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley top the list of internal options for the Nationals to consider.

    With so many options, there's no need for the Nationals to deplete their farm system any more than they already have.

Fact: The Mets and Yankees Need to Shed Salary

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    Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    Crazy as it sounds, the two teams in baseball's biggest market are out of disposable income—for now.

    "It’s like buying a new house without selling your old one," New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Joel Sherman of the New York Post last week about his team's ability to add to its roster. "Sometimes you get stuck in the transition, and it’s not a good place to be."

    Both the Mets and Yankees have doled out significant contracts this winter. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes cost the Mets $110 million, while deals for Aroldis Chapman and Matt Holliday find the Yankees on the hook for an additional $99 million in current and future payroll.

    While the rivals would both like to add at least one more established reliever to their respective bullpens, neither one can do so without first shedding salary. 

    It's been widely reported that the Mets have received interest in outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, and Sherman reiterates that the club's preference is to move Bruce and his $13 million salary over Granderson, who is due $15 million in the final year of his deal.

    The Yankees, meanwhile, are peddling Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder Brett Gardner and third baseman Chase Headley. Both have two years left on their respective deals, with Gardner due $25 million and Headley $26 million.

    If each team is able to shed one of those contracts, they'll free enough cash to add the reliever they seek—and have some left over for any last-minute bargains that come along.


    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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