Detroit Tigers Al Avila Wants a Younger and Leaner Team
The Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila sent the Tigers universe into a tailspin during his press conference earlier today.
The statement that brought the most speculation was when Avila said about the Detroit Tigers: “we want to get younger, we want to get leaner, we want to run the organization without having to go over the means of the organization.”
Reading between the lines, this statement told the world that the Tigers will no longer have the immense payroll and the older players that have dominated the lineup.
Two players were mentioned, Cameron Maybin and Francisco Rodriguez. Both have optional buyouts in 2017. Maybin’s is $1 million and K-Rod’s is $2 million. Avila was not certain what the team would do with them and decisions about them might not be made until spring.
Other than that, no official announcements were made about lineup changes. But it is clear that the $200 million payroll will be a thing of the past. What Avila did say was that no payroll numbers have yet been set – so at this time, no one knows if there is a magic number the team has to reach.
Start Your Therapy Now
What does this mean for the team and for the fans? Sadly, it probably means that fans will see a team in the spring that will be missing their current favorites. There are several players who have immense contracts that are well above their playing capabilities. Fortunately, players like Anibal Sanchez, Mike Pelfrey, and Mark Lowe have contracts that are over in 2017. But, so do players like J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler. And, the second most expensive player on the team, Justin Verlander, has a contract that expires in 2019.
It’s these three players who currently hold the most value to the Tigers. Both on the field and in trades. And I know that fans have grown to love Kinsler, J.D., and J.V. So, fans (like me) should start their therapy now. There is a good chance that at least one of those men could be playing for another team very soon. (Typing this makes my heart hurt.)
The Transition from Mike to Chris is Happening
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Mike Ilitch is getting older and it’s no secret that his son, Chris, will be taking over the franchise. It is also common knowledge that Chris does not love this team the way his father does. We Tigers fans have been the benefactors of Mike Ilitch’s love of baseball and his desire to have the best players on his team. But, this is going to change. Hopefully, Chris will continue to strive to have quality players who will deliver an entertaining and competitive product.
No matter what players do arrive in Detroit, there are still 41,000+ seats and over 100 suites to fill. There are concessions to be bought, souvenirs to be cherished, and games to watch. Chris Ilitch and Al Avila will need to tread lightly as they deduct dollars from the payroll. Yes, baseball is still a business, but that business needs fans.
Next: Season Review: Daniel Norris
Whether Ilitch and Avila call the new mindset “difficult” or a “rebuild” or a “reboot,” they should do it with the fans in mind. (But, they probably won’t.)