Buying or Selling Latest MLB Rumors on Mookie Betts, Starling Marte Trades, More

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2020

Buying or Selling Latest MLB Rumors on Mookie Betts, Starling Marte Trades, More

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    With spring training fast approaching, the final puzzle pieces of the offseason are snapping into place. Yet there are still rumors to parse and plot lines to follow.

    Let's examine four recent, credible rumors and play a round of buying or selling, with buying meaning we believe it has a good chance of happening and selling meaning...not so much.

    We've got the most recent Mookie Betts rumblings, a candidate for the Houston Astros' managerial vacancy, a Pittsburgh Pirates star who could set sail and more.

Rumor: Chicago Cubs to Sign RF Steven Souza Jr.

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Friday that right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was "close to [a] deal" with the Chicago Cubs. If it's finalized, Rosenthal added, it'll be a big league contract.

    Souza missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL and LCL in spring training and played just 72 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018 because of various injuries.

    In 2017, however, he smacked 30 home runs with an .810 OPS for the Tampa Bay Rays. The 30-year-old has also capably played all three outfield positions.

    If this signing comes to fruition, it's unlikely Chicago will re-sign 2019 trade-deadline acquisition Nicholas Castellanoswho put up a 1.002 OPS in 51 games for the Cubs and remains a free agent.

    At the same time, Souza will surely cost far less in years and dollars and is a high-upside reclamation project.

    Verdict: Buying

Rumor: Pittsburgh Pirates Poised to Trade CF Starling Marte

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Pirates don't need to move Starling Marte. He's signed through 2021, assuming they exercise an affordable $12.5 million club option.

    Yet this may be a sell-high moment for the Bucs after Marte posted an .845 OPS with 23 home runs and 25 steals in 2019.

    The 31-year-old can still play a decent center field and should intrigue any number of suitors.

    That list is topped by the New York Mets and San Diego Padres, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Talks around Marte are "intensifying," Heyman noted, and there is "still a chance something gets done before spring training."

    The Mets, however, may not have the prospects to satisfy the Pirates from a farm system Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked No. 27 in the game. And the Pads may have their eyes on another outfield prize, as we'll delve into shortly.

    Marte could be flipped at the 2020 trade deadline or next offseason, but we're betting the Pirates hang on to him for now unless someone blows them out of the water with an offer.

    Verdict: Selling

Rumor: Houston Astros Considering Brad Ausmus as New Manager

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Houston Astros are reeling from a sign-stealing scandal that rocked the franchise and led to the firing of manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

    They need redemption, and they need it fast.

    Enter Brad Ausmus, who served as the Astros' catcher for 10 seasons and managed current Houston ace Justin Verlander for three-plus seasons with the Detroit Tigers.

    Yes, he was let go after just one disappointing season as skipper of the Los Angeles Angels, but he's a popular commodity who's familiar with the franchise.

    Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reported Friday that Ausmus was in Houston to interview for the gig. Here's betting he gets it.

    Verdict: Buying

Rumor: San Diego Padres Looking to Acquire RF Mookie Betts

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The San Diego Padres are on the ascent. Are they ready to go all-in and contend in 2020? The answer to that question will determine whether they go all-in to acquire Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts.

    Per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, the Friars are willing to offer a package greater than the one the St. Louis Cardinals gave the Diamondbacks for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in December 2018, provided the Red Sox are willing to take back veteran outfielder Wil Myers and a portion of his contract.

    That could include highly regarded catching prospect Luis Campusano and presumably more, according to The Athletic's Dennis Lin.

    Betts would join third baseman Manny Machado and budding superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to form a potent lineup core.

    The Red Sox are in a state of flux and could use a prospect infusion. Still, Boston is too close to contention and the Padres are too far from being surefire players in the National League West to do this deal now. At the 2020 trade deadline? Maybe.

    But at present, the odds favor Betts donning a Sox uniform on Opening Day.

    Verdict: Selling

       

    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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