For a few hours on Wednesday, the baseball world was buzzing with a rumor that the Miami Marlins were trying to acquire New York Yankees third-baseman Alex Rodriguez through a blockbuster trade.
Keith Olbermann reported on MLB.com Wednesday that the teams had discussed a deal that would send Rodriguez to the Marlins in exchange for former closer Heath Bell. As part of the proposed deal, the Yankees would pay "virtually all" of the $114 million due to Rodriguez over the next five seasons and absorb Bell's remaining salary.
But Olbermann cited anonymous sources from both teams, and when his report came to light, officials from both teams vehemently denied any discussions took place.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN Wednesday night, "I have had no discussions whatsoever with the Marlins." Saying he has been fully absorbed in the Yankees' playoff series this month, he called the rumor "One hundred percent false."
Thursday morning, Samson got his opportunity to deny the rumor. He told MLB.com, "There have been no conversations between the Yankees and the Marlins."
Rodriguez has quickly become persona non grata in the Bronx due to his struggles at the plate. Yankees manager Joe Girardi benched A-Rod in favor of 3B Eric Chavez late in the ALDS against Baltimore, and Rodriguez has seen his offensive production drop steadily since winning his third MVP award in 2007 and posting a number of career highs.
The 37-year-old Rodriguez is a Miami native and was the first overall selection in the 1993 MLB draft out of Columbus High School. He still lives in Miami during the offseason.
Just because Samson and Cashman have denied trade talks does not mean the rumors will die. In the same story containing Cashman's comments, ESPN reported that Rodriguez could waive his no-trade clause for a deal that would send him to Miami, citing an anonymous Yankees source.
But the Marlins still have to decide whether to retain manager Ozzie Guillen or shake up the front office staff, two moves that have received much speculation since the end of the season.
At best, a deal for A-Rod is still a long shot. Between his no-trade clause and huge salary, both he and the Yankees may be reluctant to agree to a deal that requires New York to absorb his salary. But since the Miami Marlins are involved, anything is possible.