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Hot Stove Rumor Roundup

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A lot of non-baseball fans who learn what I do for a living ask me what I do when the season ends. Like, do I have a part time job make ends meet since nothing happens in baseball in the offseason. I then explain to them that, no, the offseason is crazy-busy due to signings and trades and things. They are uniformly surprised when I tell them that, historically speaking, our site and a lot of other baseball sites get more traffic in December than any other month.

But there is some nuance to that. The fist couple of weeks of December surrounding the Winter Meetings are, in fact, quite busy. But around now, the week before Christmas on through the new year, things get pretty dead. There will likely be a signing or two, possibly even a major one, but the day-to-day hum of offseason news slows down to a murmur. Agents and players and general managers have to do their Christmas shopping and travel to visit their in-laws too, ya know.

As often happens this time of year, this morning I woke up and all I saw in my little flow of baseball news tidbits were rumors and speculation of the most tenuous kind. Little if anything about substantive talks or impending moves and a lot of “[Team] is considering the possibility of maybe talking to [Player] if they can’t find anything better to do before lunch” rumors. The stuff of a three or four text exchange between a reporter and a source which starts with “hearing anything?” and ends with “so, not much, eh?” The middle part gets reported as trade rumor news.

Rather than spend a lot of time on these, let’s just catch you up on the state of the weak rumor news littering my inbox this fine Monday morning:

  • Buster Olney says there is “rampant speculation” that Matt Wieters will wind up with the Nationals. I like how that’s phrased. As if it’s shameful and scandalous.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says that Nathan Eovaldi is “among the pitchers being discussed” by the Rays. Also being discussed: Frank Lary, Don Mossi and Jim Bunning, but that’s just because they’re trying to understand how the 1959 Tigers could have three 17-game-winning pitchers but only finished with 76 wins. They’re bored in Tampa Bay too.
  • Topkin also says that the Rays have discussed Ryan Howard, along with several other left-handed bats, this offseason. Left fielder Charlie Maxwell was a lefthanded bat on the 1959 Tigers. He hit 31 homers and drove in 95, leading the club in both categories, yet was only the fourth best hitter on the team. Seriously, Detroit: what the hell happened in 1959?
  • Topkin also says “it remains possible” that the Rays will make a run at free agent Jose Bautista. I think “it’s possible” that “a run could be made” stretches transaction rumors to the damn nigh breaking point.
  • Jon Heyman is tweeting that the Indians have been making low, bargain-seeking offers to Edwin Encarnacion, Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, but will only sign one of them and only if it’s at a discount. I’d link those, but Heyman blocks me on Twitter for reasons only he knows.
  • Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Mariners “show a willingness” to trade Seth Smith. Or, as my son would’ve said before he successfully finished speech therapy, “the Marinerth show a winningneth to trade Seth Smith.”
  • Bronson Arroyo tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he hopes to continue his career in 2017 but isn’t sure if his health will allow him to. Oops, sorry. This thing about Arroyo’s health was mistakenly placed in the “rumor” file when it should’ve been placed in the “unambiguous certainty” file.
  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN says that the Tigers are continuing to “field calls” on J.D. Martinez. I imagine a lot of ’em go “so, you still want a bunch of good, young, controllable major leaguers in exchange for a guy in his walk year?” And when the Tigers say “yes,” they say “Heh, we’ll call back later when you get realistic.”
  • Crasnick also says that the Tigers would “love” to sign free agent Alex Avila but his price tag could be too high. Given that the Tigers GM is Avila’s father, this one could actually result in a signing over Christmas. Like, they could get it done over one too many eggnogs, right after Al asks Alex “I have no IDEA what to get your mother and Christmas is SUNDAY!”

So that’s where we stand on this slow Monday morning. If you need me I’ll either be (a) wrapping presents; (b) preparing for my office Christmas party; or (c) taking a deep dive into the 1959 Tigers to figure out what in the holy hell was up with that team.

What I have now: they started out 2-15, they fired their manager and replaced him with Jimmy Dykes, and they were 11 games above .500 the rest of the way. But then they sucked in 1960, they fired Dykes, so it’s not like he was The Tiger Whisperer. Whatever happened, I feel like there’s a story in those 17 games, though.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 6, Nationals 4: Carlos Gómez hit the big blast here, socking an eighth inning, go-ahead three-run homer. This after the Nats themselves had come behind following Dave Martinez getting ejected. Maybe there’s something to the whole idea of the Nats playing better without Martinez, but it’s trumped by the unreliability of the Washington bullpen, who would probably even make Casey Stengel look bad. So it would seem, at the moment anyway, the conditions for testing that idea are scientifically are not optimal. Washington should probably fix both of those things, though. Maybe they’ll have something if the season is not already lost by now.

Now let’s watch Carlos Gomez (a) lose his shoe running first to third; and (b) be all Carlos Gomez-y on that home run trot:

Pirates 14, Rockies 6: Pittsburgh was leading 8-0 when the Rockies put up a six-run sixth to make things interesting, but a big seventh featuring homers from Josh BellBryan Reynolds and Starling Marte put things back out of reach. Josh Bell on the season: .339/.408/.718 and he’s on pace for 55 homers and 162 RBI. Holy Moly.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: New York took a 5-1 lead into the eighth and it looked like another cakewalk, but the O’s at least made it interesting with a four-run eighth to tie things up. Brandon Hyde sent reliever Mychal Givens out for the top of the ninth and . . . it didn’t go well. Well, it went well at first, as Givens struck out the first two batters he faced. Then:

If I’m an Orioles fan I suppose I’m happy that game-losing rally didn’t come via even more dinger — at least in the ninth; Clint Frazier and Luke Voit homered earlier — but I suppose that’s cold comfort. Hell, at this point of the season if I’m an Orioles fan I probably want dingers because the infamy of shattering the all-time single season home runs allowed record is gonna be a season highlight. Of sorts.

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 2: Close for the first two thirds of the game but, unfortunately for the Jays, we usually play three-thirds in this game. Boston scored two in the sixth, one each in the seventh and eighth and then opened up with a three-run ninth to make this one not-so-close. Sox starter Ryan Weber allowed one run over six to give a breather to a bullpen which pitched in a thirteen inning game the night before and Steve Pearce homered and had three RBI. The highlight of the game, though, came from a Jays player. Watch Vlad Jr. through out Rafael Devers from his butt:

Marlins 5, Tigers 2: Make it six straight wins for the Marlins. This one was particularly fun for the Fish and particularly gutting for the Tigers, as Detroit took a 2-0 lead into the ninth only to see reliever Shane Greene cough up all five of the runs Miami would score on the day. First an RBI single to Neil Walker to made it 2-1. A few batters later Ron Gardenhire intentionally walked Curtis Granderson to load the bases, setting up Garrett Cooper for his two-out grand slam. Cooper hit his first big league dinger on Wednesday, so I guess he’s getting the hang of this game. That’s nine straight losses for Detroit. Could’ve been ten as they were trailing in a game against Oakland last weekend that got suspended. Of course it probably feels like 25.

Phillies 9, Cubs 7: Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto homered and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and two RBI as a fairly wild series ends up in a split. Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber homered for Chicago but Jon Lester was kinda shaky. Philly has won five of seven.

Braves 5, Giants 4: Austin Riley hit a game-tying home run in the eighth and then drove in the go-ahead run in the 13th with an RBI single. The kid just got called up nine days ago but he’s already got five homers in those nine games while hitting .389/.421/.833. Someone tell him this game at that easy. Riley and Ozzie Albies each had three hits and Tyler Flowers homered too. The Braves have won 10 of 13 and have pulled to within a game and a half of Philly.

Twins 16, Angels 7: The Angels probably would’ve preferred another rainout. No dice, though, and as it was they gave up eight — 8! VIII! — homers to the Twins. Four of those were surrendered by Matt Harvey, who couldn’t get out of the third inning and whose ERA ballooned to 7.50 on the season. So, um, yeah, that whole experiment has not worked out too well. As for the dingers: Miguel Sanó and Jonathan Schoop went deep twice while C.J. Cron, Max KeplerJorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario had a homer a piece. It was the second time this year Minnesota hit eight homers in a game. The Twins are on pace for 324 homers. The all-time record was set by the Yankees last year with 267. Minnesota is likewise only the second team to hit eight homers in a game twice in a season. The last was the 2005 Rangers. Which, yeah, every game these days sort of feels like old Rangers games. Not that that’s really a compliment, aesthetically speaking. Indeed, longtime readers will know that I tend to default to “1990s-2000s Rangers” as a shorthand for rather boring, offense-heavy baseball. Not that Twins fans should mind, of course.

Rays 7, Indians 2: The “highlight” of this one was a Kevin Kiermaeir inside-the-park homer which was, in reality, a real drag of a play given that it only happened because Tribe outfielders Oscar Mercado and Leonys Martín slammed into each other and got hurt:

Each of the outfielders would stay in the game, thankfully. Both for their own sake and because the Indians are probably one injury or cold streak away from activating Cory Snyder or Albert Belle or someone to play outfield. The Rays got more conventional homers from Tommy Pham, Avisail García and Willy Adames.

White Sox 4, Astros 0: Lucas Giolio went the distance, spinning a four-hit shutout while striking out nine to help the Chisox earn a series split. That’s two straight complete games for Giolito. The last one was a rain-shortened four and a half inning number, but CGs are rare these days. He should own it.