Detroit Tigers: Why this trade deadline could make or break Al Avila’s career

Al Avila, Detroit Tigers (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Al Avila, Detroit Tigers (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The MLB trade deadline is now almost upon us, and time for the Detroit Tigers to start making deals is winding down with each passing hour.

The 2019 season for the Detroit Tigers has felt like the lowest of the low during the longterm rebuild the organization is currently going through. Detroit’s recently extended GM Al Avila finds himself in a tricky spot at this year’s trade deadline as many fans are growing anxious about waiting for the team’s rebuild to start showing real progress.

By the end of Wednesday, Avila could be in better standing with baseball fans in the Motor City, or he could hear more fans calling for him to be fired. With coveted assets such as Shane Greene, Nicholas Castellanos, and Matthew Boyd sitting in his lap, Avila seems as if he might wait until the last minute before making any deals at the deadline, which might not be the best sign.

Based on several rumors and reports over the past month or so, we know that Avila is supposedly asking a high price in return for Detroit’s trade pieces, especially lefty starter Matthew Boyd. Despite Boyd’s AL-leading 6.14 K/BB ratio, teams are interested but seem hesitant to pay the steep price Avila might be asking for in return.

Boyd is under team control through 2022, so a failure to move him at the trade deadline wouldn’t be necessarily the worst thing. Though the 28-year-old is having an extremely impressive year on the mound, staying in Detroit could allow us to see him further develop into more of an ace so he could possibly be moved next year.

On the other hand, guys like Shane Greene and Nicholas Castellanos are not under team control for much longer, Castellanos especially as he is set to hit free agency at the end of the year. Greene is one of the best closers in baseball this year and should be a highly sought after asset for any team looking to make a bullpen upgrade, but it’s hard to ask teams to give up a top prospect or a young, MLB-ready star for a reliever.

It can be even harder to ask teams to give up any sort of prized possession for a rental bat like Castellanos. This situation closely resembles the one the Detroit Tigers found themselves in at the 2017 trade deadline with outfielder J.D. Martinez.

That year, Martinez was an established young star on a Tigers team that was gearing up to sink fully into rebuild mode. Avila traded Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July of 2017 in return for three prospects, only one of which, Dawel Lugo, has made an appearance in Detroit’s major league lineup.

Some Tigers fans may still be upset with the light return Detroit received for Martinez, but the trade market is always tricky when it comes to position players who are pending free agents. Avila may be holding out for more when it comes to dealing Castellanos this time, but who knows if teams are going to be willing to give up much at all for the right fielder.

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With the Tigers giving Avila a multi-year contract extension, it seems as if the organization wants him to be the guy to ride out the rebuild back into success, but just how much longer is it going to take? Yes, the team has assets that should be moved at this deadline and it could be the last time the Tigers have valuable pieces that could net big returns. Failure to act now could put him in a rough spot, but also not taking the best deals could make fans even more resentful.