We are less than 10 days away from Major League Baseball’s trade deadline and the one team that will have the biggest impact on what will happen, the Detroit Tigers, are the big unknown.
The Tigers, who were one of the favourites to win the World Series before the season, now find themselves 10.5 games back in AL Central. They also have two roster-changing players in pitcher David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who would be very popular trade targets.
Complicating matters is that the Tigers are just 4.0 games out in the Wild Card race and owner Mike Ilitch is 86 years old and may not want to give up on the season.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today gave us our first sense of what the Tigers might be thinking, reporting that they will indeed be “sellers” and will look to trade Price and Cespedes since both will be free agents after the season.
“The Tigers, barring a veto from owner Mike Ilitch, are going to surrender and be sellers within the next 10 days … The Tigers, according to several people inside and outside the organisation familiar with their strategy, plan to put ace David Price and power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on the trade market.”
This would be huge for the trade market. Price and Cespedes would easily be two of the best players available to contenders looking to upgrade.
This would also have a huge impact on other teams looking to trade players, especially a team like the Cincinnati Reds and their ace Johnny Cueto who is also a free agent after the season. Without Price on the market, Cueto is the best starting pitcher available. However, the emergence of Price as an available pitcher, combined with health concerns for Cueto, now means the Reds will likely have to wait to make a trade as other teams first target Price.
And yet, despite the report, it is still not clear if the Tigers will indeed trade Price or if they are simply preparing to do so in case they decide to make a move later on. This was the sentiment put forth by others, including Ken Rosenthal.
Buster Olney on his ESPN “Baseball Tonight” podcast echoed this along with his guest Jayson Stark:
Olney: “[The USA Today report] is slightly different than what I’ve heard, slightly different than what I have reported … Where the Tigers are now is that they are preparing two different paths. One is, if they are going to go ahead and try to continue to make the playoffs and two, the alternative path being that at some point they may decide to actually look to make moves in earnest and Price and Cespedes would obviously be at the top of their list.”
Stark: “I think it would be an exaggeration to say the Tigers are sellers right now. I do not think they are there yet.”
Still, Stark spoke with people in the Phillies front office, a team that also has a coveted starting pitcher in Cole Hamels, and “they believe David Price is [available].”
Another option for the Tigers and owner Ilitch is to keep Price and hope to re-sign him after the season. But as Stark points out, the Tigers have $US105 million committed to just five players next season, including Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Victor Martinez, and all five will still be under contract with Detroit in 2017. Price would likely add $US30+ million per year to that and that is probably too much, especially since the Tigers let Max Scherzer walk as a free agent last year under similar salary demands.
In other words, how the entire trade deadline shakes out may depend on how the Tigers play over the next seven or eight days and everybody else is just going to have to wait.
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