Report: Tigers prepared to be sellers, make David Price and Yoenis Cespedes available

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The Tigers beat the Mariners on Monday night to improve to 46-46 on the year. While they are 10 games behind the Royals for first place in the American League Central, they are just four back in the Wild Card race. Still, with slugger Miguel Cabrera expected to miss at least another month with a calf strain and the starting rotation vulnerable, Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski is prepared to face the upcoming July 31 non-waiver trade deadline from the unfamiliar position of a seller.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today was told by “several people inside and outside the organization familiar with their strategy” that the Tigers plan to make impending free agents David Price and Yoenis Cespedes available. Dombrowski wouldn’t go quite that far when reached for comment by Nightengale, but he didn’t exactly deny it either.

“At this point,” Dombrowski said, “our focus is trying to win right now. We’re trying to do everything we can to qualify for the playoffs. Things can turn dramatically over a 10-game period. But you have to play well, at some point, on a consistent basis.

“We’re at a point where we have to do what’s best in our heart for the franchise.

And what’s “best in our heart for the franchise” might be an infusion of young talent. Baseball America had the Tigers ranked No. 30 (as in, dead-last) in their organizational rankings over the winter. Moving Price and Cespedes, even though they would just be rentals, could get them moving in the right direction for the long-term.

Price, 29, has a 2.32 ERA and 127/26 K/BB ratio in 132 innings over 19 starts this season. He could be the most sought-after starting pitcher on the market, which is saying a lot considering that Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, and James Shields are also expected to be available.

Cespedes, 29, is batting .289/.314/.482 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI over 92 games this season. Other high-profile outfielders expected to be available for trade this month include Justin Upton, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gomez.

Report: Pirates sign Felipe Rivero to four-year contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.

Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.

Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.

Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”