Tribe, Royals see pitfall of rumor mill
Reports of potential trade between two clubs proves baseless
CLEVELAND -- The Indians and Royals got an early taste of the ridiculousness of the winter rumor mill, and it was a bitter taste, to be sure.The World Series wasn't even over yet, and the two American League Central clubs were already the subjects of a trade rumor run rampant earlier this week, when multiple published reports indicated they were discussing a trade involving Mark Teahen. As it turns out, these reports were nothing more than a bunch of Hot Stove hogwash. "That's an absolute lie," Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com, "an absolute lie. It's a lie." Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro declined to comment specifically on the rumor. But he, too, made it pretty clear the reports were imaginative, to say the least. The basis of the rumor was as follows: The Indians were looking for a third baseman to replace the departed Casey Blake and the disappointing Andy Marte, and the Royals are looking for an outfielder to possibly man center field, bumping David DeJesus to left. It was reported that trade talks between the two clubs centered around Teahen coming to Cleveland and moving to his natural position at third after two seasons in the Kansas City outfield, and the Indians sending one of three outfielders -- Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco or Minor Leaguer Trevor Crowe -- to the Royals. Run with it? Uh, not so fast. "Not only have I not been discussing it," Moore said, "but it's a flat-out lie, and you can print that." The tall tale involving Teahen speaks to a larger issue in today's game. The Internet has drastically increased competition among scribes covering clubs and has allowed the faintest whispers of a rumor to become the loudest rumblings of a deal in a matter of mere hours, if not minutes. While not addressing the Teahen situation specifically, Shapiro said it is difficult to conduct the business of the offseason in such an environment. "When baseless rumors get generated, it's unfair to the player and potentially damaging to the completion of a deal," Shapiro said. "Beyond that, it's just not the way you want to do business." The supposedly baseless Teahen talk was rare only for the time of year in which it was generated. Such rumors are commonplace as the Hot Stove season unfolds, and particularly during December's Winter Meetings. The only oddity to this rumor was that it surfaced during the postseason, when teams are more likely to be gathering information on other clubs, rather than sealing any deals. In fact, teams are forbidden from announcing any major moves during the World Series, so as not to divert attention from the Fall Classic. Of course, that doesn't preclude the basis of a deal from being formed. But more often than not, teams are looking for an alignment, not acting upon one. "This is a time of intense due diligence," Shapiro said. "Every team is determining fits, needs and potential alignments for trades." Apparently, the Indians and Royals, at the moment, are not aligning on a trade involving Teahen. But this certainly won't be the last time the two clubs are aligned with the rumor mill.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.