A few days ago, Jon Heyman dropped this little nugget into a larger trade deadline article:

They say they want a bat for the bench and bullpen help, and that is true. But they can’t resist big-game hunting. They tried hard for Lee and Haren, and made a big proposal for Royals closer Joakim Soria, as well.

At the time, I largely dismissed the rumor, simply because the words “big proposal” have been thrown around a lot lately regarding packages headlined by players such as Ivan Nova. However, Jayson Stark seemed to add some context to that tidbit with the following whopper:

Lots of Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria rumors flying in Kansas City. But teams we’ve surveyed say they see no sign that either is going anywhere. The Yankees just made another run at Soria, as first reported by — even dangling Jesus Montero. But the Royals weren’t interested.

When this story was brought to me attention on Twitter, I told anybody who would listen that the offer never took place. Brian Cashman would be extremely unlikely to give up Montero for a reliever, and even Dayton Moore is not quite dumb enough to turn that deal down. After the journalistic debacle that was the Dan Haren saga, my distrust meter was on high and I wondered how such a story could get started. Luckily, an intrepid commenter at RAB deciphered what occured. Evan 3457 noted that in the chat below Stark’s article, he added the following:

“I think you’re misreading the Yankees on Montero, Anton. They’re not hell-bent to move him. They’re just deeper in catchers than at any other position. They can’t move him to first base because Mark Teixeira has that covered. They don’t want to clog up their DH position long-term because they need to use it for their aging players. But they’re only going to trade him for a star type player. They offered him for Cliff Lee but nor for Haren. And it sounds as if they told the Royals they’d talk about him for Soria. But that’s it — so far.”

“It sounds as if” seems to suggest that Stark is not really sure, and that he does not have concrete information to that effect. So how did he reach that conclusion? Let’s let Evan 3457 finish the point:

OK, so now that TSJ traced the Montero/Soria report back to Heyman, now I know why Stark said “it sounds as if”, because Heyman’s report said “big proposal”.

Stark is assuming the “big proposal” includes Montero, who’s never explicitly mentioned by Heyman in that offer.

The fact that Stark actually references the SI/Heyman story in his report seems to fit with this conclusion. I have no way of knowing whether this is true, but it certainly seems more logical to me than the idea that the Yankees offered Montero to KC and were rebuffed. If it turns out that Stark actually has a source and “it sounds as if” was just a turn of phrase of some sort, I apologize in advance. But if he was simply taking the word “big” from Heyman’s report and assuming Montero, or had another uncertain source and reported it as definitive fact, that seems a bit irresponsible to me. It is also indicative of the unstable nature of the rumors that we hear. As this little example and the entire NBA free agency saga illustrates, just because  something is reported by a mainstream writer does not make it accurate.

15 Responses to “Anatomy of a Rumor: The Montero for Soria Proposal”

  1. Moshe, good analysis. For what it’s worth, I agree that the idea of trading Montero for Soria is idiotic.  (Quote)

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  2. It makes more sense if the Yankees said, “Lets talk about a possible deal for both Greinke and Soria, and from our end we’ll include Montero and three top pitching prospects.” The Royals replied, “No thanks, we’re not ready to deal Greinke, and if we were it would take more than that package.” Just a starting point for conversations that probably won’t go anywhere. But I’m guessing at something that is plausible, because I also cannot see Cashman ever offering Montero for a relief pitcher whose immediate role would be the 8th inning.  (Quote)

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    Scout Reply:

    P.S. I LOVE this time of the season, because so much utter nonsense flies around the Internet. And Steve Phillips is right there, chiming in about how if he were running the Yankees he would make the deal.  (Quote)

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    classicsteve Reply:

    Solid analysis Scout, especially as to the first post. Regarding Phillips, I believe he stated a couple of months ago while Stephen Strasburg was still in the minors,that if he were the GM of the Nationals, he would trade Strasburg for Oswalt, even taking into account their respective ages and salaries, because at the time, Strasburg was an unproven commodity. Amazing this man still has multiple media platforms to spew his nonsense.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    Steve Phillips-“Prospects get you fired”

    Which is another way of saying Steve puts his own personal interests over that of doing what’s best for the team.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    BTW-He should also update that one to “Butt-faced interns get you fired”  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    Lets see if that one makes Mo’s twitter tonight (crosses fingers)  (Quote)

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  3. I agree with Evan’s assessment as well. You referenced the NBA insider guys and we know they were seriously exposed this past summer, but that sort of “insider info” generates page views and websites hits. For example, just take a look at Rosenthal’s twitter feed from the last couple of days (honestly you could do this with any MLB insiderm but I find Ken’s to be the funniest):

    Source: #Diamondbacks will not hesitate to trade EJax if they get what they want. No 3-way talks with #Nationals and #WhiteSox – yet. #MLB

    To be clear with #Mets, #Royals. These are simply talks. Not sure how advanced. #MLB

    #Rangers: It was 2 scouts, not 3, to see Wiggy in B-more. Wiggy, Cantu among many options. Team also could wait til Aug. #Marlins #MLB

    …ok so this “insider” in 3 tweets over the last 24 hours “informed” us that the D’Backs would trade EJax, “if they get what they want”, says mets/royals are simply having talks, and that the Rangers had 3 whole scouts to watch Cantu!! ZOMG …But look, he diversifies the teams he talks about and I’m sure fans of those teams see the tweet and click on the link to read more.

    So Stark floats out his rumor, couching it with “sounds as if”, so he has the wiggle room to get away from the story when its proven false. In the meantime, Stark sends millions of Yankees fans to the ESPN rumor central website and he and his employers smile. Irresponsible…yes, but the hand that feeds Stark, is patting him on the back for a job well done. Thus, the lunacy of NBA and now MLB insiders (BTW same thing with the NFL guys).  (Quote)

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  4. As I said on Twitter, I think this is a very astute read of the situation. It seems like it grew a life of its own, but that there was never a firm foundation behind it. I’d also expect, should Stark have his own NYY source, that a local source like Joel Sherman would have picked it up as well. Sounds more like Stark was piggybacking.  (Quote)

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  5. I agree with the gist of your post. All of this teasing, supposedly “inside info” trade tidbits, a lot of it contradictory, is hurting my head. I think we all know that Cashman would prefer to do the deal quietly, then release info afterwards. So, a lot of this chatter is either other GM’s playing games or meerly geese honking, by sports writers, to ramp up website “hits”.

    But, since we are on the subject of the Yankees and Soria, let me say this–if the Yankees are not making a “big proposal” for Soria, they should be.

    Why? Besides the obvious need for good 8th inning relief and the continued failures by Joba, and the general poorness of the pen, there is another point that is a concern of mine—I think Mo is hurting physically much more than is generally known. The look on his face screams to me “I’m in pain”, and “I am not having fun like I used to”. Girardi also says he’s limiting Mo to 1 inning. Nothing new here–hell, Torre used to say this all of the time, but he never did it. Girardi is actually doing it. Can you imagine the pen without Mariano–and the impact, the panic? The trade price to the Yankees, for a good replacement closer would double overnight. It would behoove them to move quietly, and persisently to acquire a young heir apparant to be used for the 8th inning now, and more, if need be.
    And, yes, maybe Montero, and more, has to be included.
    Mo is not immortal, though he seems to be most of the time. I think he is hurting.

    I hope that our enemies are not listening.  (Quote)

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  6. It seems like it grew a life of its own, but that there was never a firm foundation behind it.  

    Isn’t that one of the best part about the baseball trade deadline? haha reporters looking for a story or thinking they have one and building on a tiny rumor until it’s a guaranteed thing… until it’s not. It’s one of the best and most frustrating things about this time of year.  (Quote)

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  7. Can someone please assure me the Yankees are not trying to trade for Ted Lilly?

    I keep reading the Yankees have interest in Lilly but for the life of me I can’t figure out why!

    If the Yankees were going to trade for a starter it needed to be someone like Lee or Haren who could eventually bump Hughes to the pen for the playoffs and slot in as a number 2 pitcher behind CC and in front of AJ not a glorified number 5 starter who will end up in the pen come playoff time.

    I feel the same about Jake Westbrook and Brett Myers because neither one is bumping Hughes to the setup spot and neither one is taking over the setup spot. The rotation is not our weakness even with Andy injured the whole point of trading for a Dan Haren type is because the bullpen market is non existent with teams like the Padres in the race but to trade for a mediocre pitcher who could be a mediocre reliever is not the ideal move for this club. At that point I would just rather see what guys like Romulo Sanchez can do, it’s not like he is getting a fair shake having to start down in triple A and considering he gave us 3.1 innings of 1 hit ball against the Red Sox earlier in the year it seems he is due for a call up.  (Quote)

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    Stephen R. Reply:

    No respected writer has said anything about Lilly that I’ve read. It really doesn’t look like they’re in on him as of tonight.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    I was only looking for the confirmation from someone else when I saw this on MLB trade rumors

    “Heyman doesn’t see the Yankees going after Roy Oswalt, but tweets that they like Ted Lilly”.

    I hate Heyman so I never believe his reporting but it scared me.  (Quote)

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  8. Imagine being Brian Cashman this time of year.

    He must spend half of every media session saying “I said what to who?”  (Quote)

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