Kansas City, Mo. — Tigers manager AJ Hinch was talking last week about the Tigers’ upcoming series in Minnesota and offhandedly remarked that maybe the Twins will trade Nelson Cruz by then.
Well, about that. The Twins did, in fact, trade Cruz. To Tampa Bay. But the slugger is not completely off the Tigers’ radar this season.
“Nelson Cruz isn’t on our docket for next week, so good job by the Rays,” Hinch said before the Tigers played the Royals Saturday. “Except we’ve got seven games with Tampa (in September). So we just kind of kicked the can down the road a bit in dealing with him.”
Six days ahead of the July 30 deadline, talking about Cruz has been about the extent of the trade chatter inside the Tigers clubhouse, Hinch said.
“Guys are paying attention to what’s going on out there, but it’s not a huge topic,” he said. “Especially the guys that are rumored about — our bullpen guys, (Jonathan) Schoop — people wonder outside the clubhouse more than inside the clubhouse.
“Our guys are doing a good job of just playing the game and not making it a big deal.”
Schoop, Jose Cisnero, Kyle Funkhouser, Gregory Soto, Jeimer Candelario and Daniel Norris are among the Tigers players who have all drawn at least cursory interest from teams across the league. Schoop, though, remains the most likely Tiger to be moved at the deadline.
“The only thing he’s said about it is, he wants to be a Tiger,” Hinch said. “And I appreciate his willingness to say that. But he also understands the nature of the game when you are in the last year of your deal and you’re doing really well and teams want to hit on you and potentially acquire you.
“But he’s made it perfectly clear he wants to be a Tiger and I think that matters.”
Schoop has hired the Scott Boras Agency, a move that former Tiger Nick Castellanos made in 2019 before the Tigers ultimately traded him to the Cubs at the deadline.
In an interview with The Athletic, Schoop explained the decision to switch agencies.
“I think me and my family think it’s best for us in the future,” he said. “He’s one of the best in the business. Why not go there if we have the chance to go there right now, you know? Me and my family sat down, and I think and they think, it was the best option for me, and I’m a big family guy, so that’s why.”
Schoop is 29 and, with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs and a .124 OPS-plus, is having his most productive season since his All-Star season of 2017.
The hope is that utility man Niko Goodrum will be able to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo Monday or Tuesday, but that’s not set in stone. Goodrum, out since July 17 with a left calf injury, is with the team in Kansas City, working out before games with the Tigers training staff.
“I think he’s a little apprehensive because in the calf you can do some damage if you’re not careful,” Hinch said. “We’re trying to build up his confidence.”
Goodrum on Friday took ground balls and hit in the cage. But he didn’t look all that comfortable doing the running drills.
“Yeah, the running he did at the end he was tentative,” Hinch said. “That’s somewhat psychological and it’s somewhat physical. We have to get him past that fearful stage where he’s worried he’s going to do more damage.”
Goodrum did resistance running drills along with Daz Cameron (toe) Saturday and looked stronger.
“He’s progressing,” Hinch said. “We’re not sure if he’s going to hit that Monday-Tuesday deadline that we hoped for. But it’s still trending that way.”
Around the horn
The fifth inning home run Kansas City’s Carlos Santana hit off Wily Peralta Friday came off the split change-up. It was the first hit Peralta has allowed off that pitch this season. Hitters were 0-for-31 against it before that at-bat.
… Robbie Grossman went 0-for-4 Friday, ending his on-base streak at 21 games.
… The Tigers agreed to terms with three more draft picks: outfielder Austin Schultz (10th round), third baseman Chris Meyers (13th round) and right-handed pitcher RJ Petit (14th round). Seventeen of the 21 picks have signed.