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.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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