2014 MLB Trade Deadline

MLB Trade Rumors: Fact or Fiction on All the Wildest Rumors out on the Web

Jason CataniaMLB Lead WriterJuly 23, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: Fact or Fiction on All the Wildest Rumors out on the Web

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    Now that he's back from injury just before the trade deadline, will the Phillies trade Cliff Lee?
    Now that he's back from injury just before the trade deadline, will the Phillies trade Cliff Lee?Michael Perez/Associated Press

    With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, it's time to highlight and examine the rumors and the speculation that have been surrounding players who are on the block and could be on the move in the coming days.

    On Tuesday, the San Diego Padres traded third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees, as Daniel Kramer of MLB.com writes, but that certainly won't be the last transaction between now and July 31. Not by a long shot.

    Not every rumor becomes a reality, however, so here's a rundown of a handful of the latest potential moves and whether the whispers are fact or fiction.

The Rumor: Cliff Lee Will Be Traded

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    The Scenario

    Cliff Lee wasn't at his best Monday night, surrendering six runs on a career-high 12 hits over 5.2 innings against the San Francisco Giants in his first start back after missing more than two months with a left elbow injury.

    "It's the first one back," Lee said of his outing, via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. "I need to get back into a groove and just do that. That's where my focus is. I couldn't care less about the scouts in the stands or trade rumors or any of that. That doesn't mean anything to me."

    There were evaluators from a number of contenders on hand, including the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and Giants, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

    The southpaw remains one of the bigger names on the trade market because the Philadelphia Phillies are out of it, but more importantly, because of Lee's resume, which includes three top-10 finishes in Cy Young Award voting since he took that trophy in 2008.

    Lee might not be so easy to trade, however, because of his age (35), limited no-trade clause and the $25 million coming to him by the end of 2015 (plus a $12.5 million buyout for 2017 that could vest and jump to $27.5 million).

     

    The Verdict

    Fiction: Between losing so much time to an arm injury and being owed millions of dollars, it's hard to see how Lee goes anywhere while his value is at an all-time low—and with only one more start before the deadline to show he's healthy.

The Rumor: Matt Kemp Will Be Traded

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Scenario

    For oh-so-many reasons, one could simply reread the previous page and replace "Cliff Lee" with "Matt Kemp" and swap out "Philadelphia Phillies" for "Los Angeles Dodgers" and come to the same conclusion.

    Kemp, after all, is a former star who is a trade candidate despite struggling (.756 OPS) and having had a rough go of it due to injury. The difference between Lee and Kemp? The 29-year-old outfielder costs a heck of a lot more—$107 million through the 2019 season—and has been fighting against more ailments (shoulder, hamstring, ankle, etc.) over the past couple of seasons.

    For his part, Kemp has indicated through his agent, Dave Stewart, that he would like to once again be an everyday center fielder, whether that happens in Los Angeles or elsewhere, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports.

    "Whatever [the Dodgers] want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day," Stewart said. "He'd like to eventually go back to center field. He's not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center."

     

    The Verdict

    Fiction: The Dodgers wouldn't mind finding a way to open a spot for top prospect Joc Pederson to become their center fielder, but Kemp is even more immovable than Lee given his contract and plummeting performance.

The Rumor: John Danks to the New York Yankees

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The Scenario

    In the wake of their trades for right-hander Brandon McCarthy and Headley, the New York Yankees don't appear to be sitting still.

    The club has also checked in with the Chicago White Sox about the availability of veteran lefty John Danks, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    As Heyman writes: "There is no evidence the sides are close to a deal and may be in only the early stages of talks. The White Sox are looking for young players and prospects as they continue their rebuild."

    The 29-year-old Danks, who finally is past shoulder problems that cut into his 2012 and 2013 seasons, has been mediocre with a 4.35 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 124.0 innings (20 starts) this year. Still, he would give the Yankees' injury-ravaged rotation some much-needed innings and its only southpaw.

    Because of his so-so performance so far and the $14.25 million he's in line for each of the next two seasons, New York might not have to give up much in the way of talent. That would be a similar approach to the team's trades to date, as left-hander Vidal Nuno, utility player Yangervis Solarte and prospect Rafael De Paula are not highly regarded.

     

    The Verdict

    Fact: There's enough smoke here—and the Yankees have enough money and enough of a need for arms—for there to be a legitimate shot this gets done, as long as the White Sox don't expect a blue-chip piece in return.

The Rumor: Marlon Byrd to the Mariners, Royals or Reds

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Scenario

    Amid a surprisingly productive season, Marlon Byrd is likely to find himself switching squads for a second straight summer.

    The 36-year-old went from the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates during the waiver-trading period last August, but the Philadelphia Phillies won't have to wait that long to deal Byrd this time around. At a time when power is at a premium, Byrd's next home run will make him just the 15th player in baseball with 20 and only the sixth outfielder able to make that claim.

    Until recently, the Seattle Mariners were most linked to Byrd, per Crasnick, but that field has expanded. The Kansas City Royals also are interested, notes Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, and so are the Cincinnati Reds, as Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports.

    Here's the catch: The first two teams mentioned—the M's and the Royals—are on Byrd's limited no-trade clause; the Reds are not, as per Salisbury.

    "I'd like to add a bat," Cincinnati's general manager, Walt Jocketty, said earlier in the week, as per Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "It's something we hope to get done. I don't want to say it's something we have to do. I still think we're going to compete well with the club we have, but if we can get some reinforcements, it always helps."

     

    The Verdict

    Fact: Not trading Byrd when there's this much interest in a soon-to-be 37-year-old outfielder would be nothing short of foolish for the Phillies, so it's merely a matter of when—and to which team—he gets dealt.

The Rumor: Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Scenario

    As a closer on the team with the worst record in the majors, Joakim Soria is a luxury the Texas Rangers don't need and should try to cash in on while they can.

    Soria, 30, is having a fantastic bounce-back campaign (17 SV, 2.70 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) in his first full season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. If anything, that makes the right-hander even more likely to be traded, even if Soria himself says he'd like to remain a Ranger, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

    The Detroit Tigers, which have had a desperate need for stability in the late innings for the past few seasons, have had "ongoing discussions" about Soria, according to Morosi.

    Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is known for finding creative ways to bolster any weaknesses that crop up over the first half of a season.

    In 2012, he traded for righty Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante in one fell swoop; last year, he covered the suspension of shortstop Jhonny Peralta by getting Jose Iglesias. Also worth noting? None of those players wound up being half-season rentals, which shows that Dombrowski has one eye on the future, too.

    Another such move might be required of Dombrowski, with closer Joe Nathan—MLB's active saves leader—going through a shockingly terrible year (5.89 ERA, five blown saves). And wouldn't you know it: Soria is under contract through 2015 and comes at a team-friendly price of $7 million.

     

    The Verdict

    Fact: Look, the Tigers need to bring in some bullpen help, because they cannot afford to have their World Series hopes blown up by the bullpen yet again, and Soria is arguably the best available reliever now that Huston Street has moved.

     

    Statistics are accurate through July 22 and come from MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs, except where otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11

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