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A few thoughts about how MLB free agent rumors are reported

They aren’t always what they appear to be.

Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

It seems to me that I’ve written an article like this before, though I can’t find anything specific to this topic right now. But even if I have, I think this sort of thing bears repeating.

Every day I see articles written about teams “linked” to a certain free agent, or “interested” in that player, or “would make a good fit” for that player.

And right away, you’ll see reactions as if those things have been sent down on stone tablets from the heavens as fact.

I’m here to tell you they’re far from that. You surely know, or if you don’t you should, that many of these “reports” by national writers are planted by agents trying to drum up interest in their clients, or try to drive up the price. I’m reasonably sure that baseball executives have learned to downplay or ignore such “reports.”

For example, there’s this:

The Yankees remain far apart in negotiations with free agents Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, as well as in trade talks with the White Sox regarding ace righty Dylan Cease, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for the New York Post.

However, there’s a belief the Yankees will ultimately make a significant rotation addition before the offseason is over, per Heyman, who notes that managing partner Hal Steinbrenner is “said to be on board with the concept of a serious addition to a rotation.”

A “belief”? Well, I can have beliefs, too, but are those rooted in reality? Or are agents and/or front offices simply telling reporters one thing for their own selfish reasons? Hal Steinbrenner is “said to be on board with the concept of a serious addition to a rotation.”

On board with a concept. Sounds like someone’s making stuff up.

Or this, regarding Marcus Stroman:

If not for an injury-marred second half of last season, Marcus Stroman might have been included in that lead tier. But now, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Stroman will likely have to wait for at least one of those aforementioned hurlers to sign before finding his future MLB home.

On the bright side, Stroman appears to have a rather robust market. Feinsand writes that the Giants, Angels, Orioles and Red Sox have been connected to the 32-year-old right-hander, and a reunion with the Cubs “can’t be ruled out.”

Okay, I can play this game too: I’m ruling out Stroman coming back to the Cubs. It’s not happening. How do I know that? Well... I don’t, other than having a... belief.

Or this, about Cody Bellinger:

The Cubs seemed to make sense from the start since Bellinger regained his offensive form, hitting .306 with an .881 OPS, on Chicago’s North Side after they made the prescient signing for $17.5M last year. Agent Scott Boras suggested back at the GM meetings the Cubs needed to move to get in the game, and it’s uncertain if they have.

The Giants, Jays and Mariners all look like potential fits. But are there others?

Could the Phillies be an option? They were getting basically no production out of center field in the playoffs, and they’re a team that’s thrived in free agency. Of course, they seem more focused on a starter at present (Jordan Montgomery maybe?)

How about the Angels? Mike Trout can’t be too thrilled about their playoff chances following the loss of Shohei Ohtani, and they obviously have plenty of money to spend. Bellinger could also keep Trout healthy by allowing him to move to a corner spot.

This... this feels like Jon Heyman just making stuff up. There aren’t any specific links to any discussions between Bellinger/Boras and any of those teams, just Heyman trying to pump up some interest in clicks, I suppose. Or maybe Boras is trying to jack up a market that is running... very... slowly.

There is one thing that will happen, absolutely for sure, this week: Japanese lefthander Shōto Imanaga will either sign with a major league team, or he’ll be back in NPB in Japan for 2024. His posting window ends this Thursday, January 11. If no MLB team has signed him by then, he’s got to play in Japan in 2024. Could the Cubs use him? Sure. Will they? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I understand that national baseball writers have to try to create clicks for their writing in a slow offseason, just like I do here. Honestly, at times it’s been difficult to put together something so that all of you have at least a discussion point every morning.

A commenter — and again, I cannot remember who, so step up if it was you — suggested that I post a sort of open thread where you, the BCB reader, could post almost any trade or free agent suggestion for the Cubs, no matter how silly or un-factual it sounds.

So that’s more or less what this post is for, a sort of transaction open thread, where you can go crazy if you want, or less so if you don’t.

What else do we have right now? The countdown calendar on my phone says it’s 46 days until the Cubs take the field against the White Sox at Sloan Park to open the 2024 Spring Training season, and 80 days until they face the World Series champion Rangers in Arlington, Texas to open the 2024 MLB regular season.

So there’s time... but it’s growing shorter. Have at it.

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