Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

david price tigersHow about a big rumor to kick things off this morning? Certainly better than dwelling on last night’s loss. Plenty of time for that later.

Bob Nightengale reports that the Detroit Tigers, one of the most intriguing teams on the buyer/seller fence, will start unloading pieces in the next 10 days leading up to the Trade Deadline on July 31. That is, unless owner Mike Ilitch vetoes the plan (in my limited recollection, Ilitch has been the kind of owner who interferes in baseball operations decisions only to make more money available and push for a big signing, but I could be mistaken).

The Tigers as a seller means, at a minimum, two huge pieces come onto the market: starter David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. While I don’t know that either would be Cubs targets – as I’ve said before, I’d be shocked if the Cubs gave up premium prospects for a pricey rental (instead, I think mid-tier rentals or longer-term pieces make more sense as targets) – Price’s and Cespedes’s presence on the market could have significant ramifications. For one thing, if they are traded to a contender (or contenders), the teams battling that contender may be inclined to respond with a move of their own. For another thing, their presence on the market could apply a little downward pressure on the market for mid-tier rentals that the Cubs might target, allowing the Cubs to complete those kinds of deals at a more palatable price.

Plus, there’s the fact that, if Price is traded in-season, he would no longer be tied to draft pick compensation after the season. In theory, that could factor into a Cubs decision to pursue him in free agency (or, more likely, how much they’d be willing to spend). Then again, if Price is traded, might he wind up with a team that wants to try and extend him before he reaches the market after the season? (Would that team be the Cubs? Would the Cubs give up an elite prospect or two for a couple months of Price and the early opportunity to pay him $200 million? I know you might find it fun and exciting to dream, but I really doubt it.)

I wonder if the Tigers would shop Anibal Sanchez, now 31, whom the Cubs pursued before he signed onto a deal with the Tigers that pays him $16.8 million this, and each of the next two seasons (plus a $16 million team option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout). Sanchez is having his worst year in a long time, though his peripherals don’t look that bad. The Tigers would probably have to eat some salary for a deal to make sense, and they’d presumably be just as comfortable hanging onto him.

How about outfielder Rajai Davis, who is hitting .268/.325/.423, can play all over the outfield, runs the bases well, and makes $5 million this year before reaching free agency? Well, the issue there is that he’s an extreme platoon split guy, who crushes lefties (career .805 OPS) but not righties (.649). Not sure that’s the right fit for the Cubs.

In any case, there’s a lot to unpack here if the Tigers do proceed to sell, as it sounds like they will. The biggest impact here is Price, whose presence on an increasingly-crowded pitching market probably is a net benefit to a team like the Cubs, looking for pitching (even if not Price (right now)).

If they wait until next Thursday and Friday, that should give me plenty more to discuss during the 35-hour BN Blogathon … we’re nearly up to 36 hours, by the way:

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