I love the MLB offseason. Following the Hot Stove, keeping tabs on all of the potential wheeling and dealing that could happen at the Winter Meetings, and constantly refreshing MLB Trade Rumors for the latest updates are some of my favorite activities of the year. If that makes me weird, so be it. I just find it all so fascinating.
This time of year is filled with rumors. Media reports are constantly being released using bits and pieces of information. Sometimes the info comes from an anonymous source. Sometimes it comes from a player’s agent. Sometimes it comes from a general manager. Regardless of where the information comes from, the stories given to the media are almost never complete.
When reporters write articles based on whatever information is available (even if it’s incomplete), the fans who read them typically begin connecting dots that may not even exist. Many fans will start reacting – and overreacting – to hypothetical moves that may have only a minuscule chance of happening. I know I’ve been guilty of doing just that. It’s what makes us fans. We hear rumors about moves our favorite team may be pursuing, and we instantly react without really considering the likelihood of that move actually happening.
For example, a few weeks ago, a report surfaced that the Royals were willing to listen to trade offers for Billy Butler. As fans typically do, we reacted. How could Dayton Moore consider trading one of the two best hitters on the team when the biggest need for 2014 is offense? What could he possibly be thinking to even entertain the idea of trading away one of the better young, right-handed hitters in the league? And if he was going to trade him, why would he do so after one of Butler’s worst seasons?
As it turns out, we may have overreacted. According to a report from Bob Dutton on Thursday, one club official doesn’t feel like trading Butler has even a slim chance of happening. Obviously things can change, and if the Royals are presented with an attractive enough offer, nearly any current player could be had. But as the official points out, sending Butler to another team would be making the offensive void even bigger. That is not a solution, and I’m just happy the Royals apparently have recognized that.
Another interesting rumor that was floated around recently was that the Royals were interested in trading for Brandon Phillips. I would be strongly opposed to such a move, as I wrote about here. In Dutton’s article, club officials indicated that is another trade unlikely to happen. Moore also said “Second base is not a huge priority for us.” Again, everything is fluid during the offseason, so the team could still pursue Phillips, but for now it sounds like they may understand that he would be too costly to acquire.
Players aren’t immune from participating in the rumor mongering, either. On Thursday afternoon, Jeremy Guthrie sent the following tweet:
J _ S _ J _ _ N _ _ N I’d like to solve the puzzle Pat! #RoyalsRumors
— Jeremy Guthrie (@TheRealJGuts) November 14, 2013
With the recent reports about the Royals targeting Josh Johnson, some fans took this to possibly mean the team was close to a deal with the big right-handed starter. While that is possible, Guthrie was likely just having some fun on social media, which he has been known to do.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of this Royals’ offseason, however, has been the tweets of Ervin Santana. He’s tweeted about the Chiefs. He’s tweeted quotes from famous baseball players. He’s tweeted a note of thanks to the Royals and their fans. The reaction from fans has been fairly consistent:
WHAT DO THEY ALL MEAN, ERVIN?!?!?
If it’s all been a PR maneuver – which is likely – it’s been a darn good one. I can’t remember a one-year rental player who has ever endeared himself to the fanbase like Santana has done in 2013. He’s used social media as a tool for connecting with fans. He’s also used social media as a tool for confusing fans. And it’s all been incredibly fun to follow.