Detroit Tigers: Al Avila Needs More of Same at Trade Deadline

Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers players seem to be turning things around. After an impressive comeback Thursday, the Tigers demolished Tampa Bay 10-2. While the team is figuring it out, some additions could help.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila enjoyed an extremely successful first offseason in charge of the team. Avila brought in a frontline starting pitcher and a middle-of-the-order bat in Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton respectively.

Other free agents to join included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Mike Aviles.

However, Avila did his best work on the trade market. The general manager unloaded struggling reliever Ian Krol and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier to Atlanta for center fielder Cameron Maybin.

Despite missing the first part of the season due to injury, the outfielder entered Friday hitting a scathing .359 in 39 games. He’s also added 25 runs scored, 20 RBI and eight stolen bases—not to mention a .413 on-base percentage.

Also arriving via trade were relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Justin Wilson. As a unit, the bullpen has been throwing the ball much better as of late. However, since Opening Day, the duo have been the team’s most consistent and effective relievers. 

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Rodriguez has brought stability to the back end of the bullpen, and owns a 3.14 ERA and 22 saves in 28.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Wilson sports a similar ERA (3.30), while also pitching to a sparkling 1.66 FIP.

The duo were acquired in separate deals with the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees. All told, Detroit gave up middle-infield prospect Javier Betancourt and starting pitching prospects Chad Green and Luis Cessa.

Betancourt was blocked on the organizational depth chart not only by current starters Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias, but also by two prospects closer to the Major Leagues in JaCoby Jones and Dixon Machado. Similarly Green and Cessa were blocked by the likes of Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris. What’s more, fellow prospects like Beau Burrows and Jairo Labourt may have higher ceilings when all is said and done.

All told, Avila acquired an offensive catalyst, a shutdown closer and an excellent reliever for Ian Krol and some mid-level prospects buried on the organizational depth chart.

Not bad.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Tigers need Avila to work his magic again.

The reality is that the team doesn’t need a headline-grabbing addition. Detroit has plenty of standout performers already. Additionally, once Justin Upton and Mark Lowe consistently play to their abilities, they’ll have the same impact as a new addition.

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Still, needs remain.

Detroit could use some added bullpen depth and perhaps another outfield option to improve the bench. If Avila can make these kinds of additions without giving up too much in the prospect department, the Tigers would achieve the rare double of significantly improving the team’s chances this season, while also maintaining a bright future.

Jason Motte, Kevin Jepsen, David Hernandez, Chad Qualls or Alexi Ogando would be ideal bullpen fits in a depth capacity. A new reliever could also provide competition for Mark Lowe in relief. Additionally, a more natural outfielder could serve as a defensive – and an offensive—upgrade over Mike Aviles. Old friends Matt Joyce and Ryan Raburn could be fits off the bench in this scenario.

On the other hand, Avila could opt for a utility upgrade over Aviles. Someone like Eduardo Nunez, Steve Pearce or Danny Valencia could be a fit.

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Whatever direction the Detroit Tigers general manager goes in, he needs to refrain from giving up much in any deal. If he can do this while still adding quality to supplement the current roster, the Tigers will be in excellent shape.