Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera played with a sore groin throughout most of the second half of the season, limiting his ability to defend his Triple Crown. The soreness has continued to bother him throughout the post-season both at the plate and defensively at third base. Opposing teams have considered attacking him with bunts, but Cabrera has adjusted by playing way up on the grass against speedier players. He is hitting .278 with one home run in the ALCS against the Red Sox after hitting .250 with one homer in the ALDS against the Athletics.
Manager Jim Leyland laments that Cabrera isn’t fully healthy, depriving fans of seeing one of this generation’s greatest hitters. Via Tim Healey of WEEI:
“It’s really a shame, to be honest with you, for the whole baseball world because they’re not getting a chance to see him at his best,” Leyland said of Cabrera. “This time of year, people are turning on the TV, they love to see these guys. Obviously I think he’s the best player in the league. To not be able to see him at his best because of a physical ailment, it hurts a little bit, but that’s just the way it is. You have to live with those things.”
“It kind of breaks your heart, to be honest with you, to see him out there the way he has to be out there and the way he is right now because you know he’s hurting,” Leyland added later. “Everybody is conscientious these days about people earning their money. You talk about somebody who is earning their money, this guy feels like he owes it to the Detroit Tigers and our fans to be out there”
Should the Tigers get pushed out of the playoffs, either in Game 6 or Game 7, it won’t be the fault of Cabrera’s ailing groin, however. While he may be injured, he has still been among the more productive Tigers hitters. First baseman Prince Fielder has just four hits in 19 at-bats in the ALCS, none of them homers. Torii Hunter is hitting .217. Austin Jackson has five hits, all singles. Omar Infante is hitting .176.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.