Avila Waiting For Better Offers For Boyd, Greene: 'Nobody's Been Overly Aggressive'

Will he get what he wants before the July 31 deadline?

Jamie and Stoney
July 11, 2019 - 11:59 am

© Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC


About three weeks away from the trade deadline, Tigers general manager Al Avila is playing it slow. 

The market has yet to heat up for any of his top three assets in Shane Greene, Matthew Boyd and Nicholas Castellanos. 

Still, by July 31, it's a fair bet at least two of them will be dealt. Right, Al? 

"That’s hard to say," Avila told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. "Right now there’s a lot of pitching available, particularly relievers, so it’s hard to say. I would say that I would expect interest in our pitchers, they’ve done very well. Obviously I've been in contact with a lot of GM's. Nobody’s been overly aggressive, but I think it's just because of the timing of it right now. I'll know more coming out of this weekend, as far as how aggressive teams are going to be.

"I think Shane Greene put it in the right words, that any reliever that’s pitching well right now on a rebuilding team can obviously be a target. They’ve pitched well, so there’s reason to believe that there would be some interest." 

The Tigers have put up for sale essentially their entire roster, with Boyd being the most attractive player available. But it's no sure thing he gets traded; the 28-year-old is under team control through 2022. The All-Star Greene, a free agent after next season, is on his way out. As for Castellanos, a free agent after this season who's not part of the long-term plan, the Tigers will face the same slow market they have in the past. In the end, they'll probably take what they can get. 

[RELATEDWhat Can Tigers Expect In Greene Trade?]

In any trade, expect Avila to target position players. For all of their bright young arms, the Tigers have a sore need for more hitters. It's the largest area of concern in the organization's fledgling rebuild. 

"That’s true," Avila acknowledged. "The position players right now, it’s one of those things where unless you see the stats across the board as far as on-base-percentage, OPS, your home runs, things of that nature, you tend to get nervous about it."

Detroit's top hitting prospect is infielder Isaac Paredes, the No. 83 prospect in baseball, via MLB Pipeline. He's batting .256 with a .729 OPS this season with Double-A Erie. Shortstop Willi Castro is also catching eyes in Triple-A Toledo, with a .296 average and a .827 OPS. After those two, the best bats are still a long way away. 

When the time comes to supplement the big-league lineup, Avila said, the Tigers plan to be aggressive on the free agent market. They like that they already have the arms in-house. 

"One thing that we’ve learned over the years is the pitching on the free agent market is really volatile. It's very risky. Not only with us, but if you look across the league and other teams' free agent pitching acquisitions, not all of them have always panned out very well. So that’s one thing we feel really good about, is homegrown pitching. We think we we have really high-end guys, and that'll help us compete for a long time.

"Now, obviously we have to bring along some hitting. And we feel that wherever we are going to be deficient as far as hitting is concerned, we should be able to go out there on the free agent market and try to make an acquisition or two as things develop at the Major League level." 

Speaking of those young arms, Detroit's top prospect Casey Mise returned to action Wednesday night after missing about a month with shoulder inflammation. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning for Class-A Lakeland due to an elevated pitch count, but Avila said otherwise everything went well. Namely, Mize's shoulder felt fine. 

"We took him out because we have a philosophy in the minor leagues that if you have one particular inning that’s too stressful and the pitch count goes up, we’ll take the pitcher out and we’ll avoid the stress," said Avila. "We wanted him to go 60-65 pitches, so he went ahead and pitched three innings in the bullpen. He felt good, the ball was coming out of his hand fine, he was up to 95 (mph). He said he felt strong. It’s just that his command wasn’t there and we felt that it was prudent to take him out." 

Mize will likely make one more start next week for Lakeland before going back to Erie, where he has dominated this season. 

Other highlights from Avila' interview:

On the Tigers' lack of success on the international free agent market: "That, in itself, is really not true in its total parts. ... When we traded for David Price, we traded Willy Adames to Tampa Bay and he became their No. 1 prospect. Now he's their starting shortstop. This is his rookie season. If we avoid that trade -- which, of course, that was a good trade for us. We had David Price and he helped us win here. But right now Willy Adames could be our starting shortstop, and we feel and Tampa Bay and the league feels that he is a future All-Star shortstop. So that's one guy right there. The other guy we traded was Eugenio Suarez to the Reds. He's already been an All-Star, he’s got a multi-year deal with the Reds, he's their starting third baseman. That was also a trade that we made in trying to win. The trade that we made with Avi Garcia to the White Sox for (Jose) Iglesias at the time. Well, two years later Avi Garcia became an All-Star also. Those are guys that we developed."

On whether the Tigers would consider a buy-out for Miguel Cabrera: "No, I don't think so. A buyout, I don’t know how that would work. He’s got four years left on the contract after this season. Right now, Miggy does everything possible to stay on the field and produce. He’s one of these guys that when there’s men on second, he’s got an uncanny way of just being able to drive in that run. That in itself is a positive for us. You see a lot more base hits than home runs, that's true. Obviously the injuries have taken a toll on him. But he works himself every day to make sure that he's on the field. He does the best that he can in order to try to produce for us. He tries to be a leader for our young players. We have a lot of young, inexperienced guys on the team, and he’s in the middle of the lineup. So every day he goes out there he tries his best to be on the field and be able to play."