CLOSE

As the 2017 trade deadline approaches, here’s our list of Detroit Tigers most likely to be sent packing. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
Wochit

Star first baseman thinks speculation of trade deadline deals is hampering team’s performance

CLEVELAND – No matter how insulated the Detroit Tigers’ clubhouse claims to be, paying no attention to the persistent trade rumors that permeate baseball’s landscape these days, it cannot be ignored.

A couple weeks ago, first baseman Miguel Cabrera sat on a couch in the visitor’s clubhouse at Safeco Field and saw a few of his teammates being talked about on MLB Network, their current and future contract situations listed, with their most probable landing spots this July being debated.

Cabrera, the Tigers’ co-face of the franchise with ace right-hander Justin Verlander, spoke about those rumors before the first-half finale against the Indians this evening, saying they are heard loud and clear.

“We’re humans, man,” he said. “We think and we feel and we feel everything, so it’s hard when you hear that every day.”

Cabrera, 34, is not one of the particular players being speculated about. He isTigers notes signed for $184 million through 2023 and is in the midst of a down season at the plate. Through 73 games, he is hitting .267 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs, hampered by a back issue that cropped up during this spring’s World Baseball Classic.

More: MLB front offices on what 5 Tigers may fetch on trade market

About the trade rumors, he said, “They gotta do what they gotta do to get this team better. So it’s not part of my business. I don’t really think about it. If they want to trade me, trade me. If they want to trade this guy, if they want to trade that guy, trade that guy. But I don’t like to come here every day and hear that this guy is going to get traded, this guy is going to go away. Do something. That’s it.”

Cabrera spent part of his pregame time talking about those rumors with Verlander, and suggested the speculation has taken a toll on a team that is in a tailspin entering the All-Star break.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

“Days and days,” he said. “You gotta worry about playing the game, not if you’re going to be traded or if they’re going to trade somebody.”

At best, the Tigers will head into the break nine games under the .500 mark, eight games behind the Indians in the American League Central division and six games back of the AL’s second wild-card spot. Though general manager Al Avila has made no such statement, the front office is almost certainly planning to trade their worthy players before the July 31 trade deadline.

About making a second-half run, Cabrera said, “I hope so. I think there’s a lot of games to go. We can do a lot of things but like I say, we need to start winning some games to start thinking about that.

More: Ausmus believes in letting Tigers’ season play out

“We expect to win. We expect to win games and we’re not really doing that right now so it’s kind of hard but at the same time, we have to keep going and try to do something. Every day is a new day and every day we have to do something to win games.”

Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) blows a bubble during a stop in play in the fourth inning of the Tigers’ 11-2 loss Friday in Cleveland. (Photo: Aaron Doster USA TODAY Sports)

Asked what needs to change with this team, Cabrera said, “You gotta ask that to Avila or the manager. We’re here to play baseball.”

Cabrera had been part of a similar process in his final days with the Marlins, before they shipped him to the Tigers during the 2007 off-season.

“They gotta do what they gotta do to get this team better,” Cabrera said. “Let’s see what happens.”

Contact Anthony Fenech: afenech@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.