The non-tender day came and went and the Detroit Tigers sat by.
Sometimes you need a metal detector to find the treasure hidden from your sight. Other times you just need to open your eyes. What do Kyle Schwarber, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, and Curt Casali have in common? All were let go by their respective clubs today for nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. All of them are better players than what the Detroit Tigers have in place at the current time. Paging Al Avila. Al Avila please put down your lunch and report to your home office and at least pretend to dial a number.
From the outside, it sure looks like Al Avila was disinterested in making the 2021 Detroit Tigers better for essentially just cash and Dawel Lugo type prospects headed the other way. The Cubs, Twins, Braves, and Reds took nothing to shed these salaries. You can’t tell me he couldn’t have called the Cubs and offered any marginal A-ball lottery ticket at a positional need for their respective organizations and they collectively would have said “ No, we rather just release our guys and not even bother with your offer.” Today was a dereliction of duty by Al Avila. Period.
For all the improvement in drafting that seems to have taken place in 2019 and 2020, he is still an inadequate GM when it comes to the other aspects of building an organization. Al Avila was holding a pair of kings today, with the other GM’s folding their hands without him even making a play. He walked away with the same as they did…nothing. An opportunity to have a year or more of control of some legitimate major league ballplayers and to field a better squad by spending a few dollars and giving up little prospect capital just went by the wayside.
Sure they could sign one or two of these newly found free agents. It might even be likely they sign one of them. However, when you are the Michigan’s Adventure of MLB and have to now compete with Disney World, why wouldn’t you make a few offers to gain control of one or more said players and not let them see that bigger and better vacation destination?
Christin Stewart in left field is a disaster. How is a year of Kyle Schwarber not appealing in his last season before hitting the free-agent market? I’m thinking that’s a pretty good 9 million or so to spend. This is a man with a career .816 OPS and 113 OPS+. Stewart needs a step ladder to see those numbers and a brace around his noodle throwing arm to reach for them.
Eddie Rosario doesn’t draw a walk. You would think Al Avila would naturally be drawn to him. Still, his 2019 campaign featured a slash line of .276/.300/.500 along with 32 Home Runs. The Detroit Tigers haven’t had a 30 home run hitter since Miguel Cabrera knocked 38 out of the park in 2016. Why not offer the next Nate Cornejo to the Twins and try to bring him into the fold?
Adam Duvall is going to be 32 this season but did have a .832 OPS even with a dip in the batting average to .237 in 2020. 16 home runs in those 57 games played down in Atlanta. 2 years of team control. Seems like a decent guy to at least consider taking a shot with for a year and maybe re-up for year 2 if needed to bridge the gap to the hopefully not so distant future Tigers contending teams for probably a 5-7 million salary in this arbitration year season?
Who is going to go north with the team at catcher? The position is in total disarray at the major league level. Former Tigers farmhand Curt Casali carved out a nice little niche for himself in Cincinnati posting a .260/.345/.440 over the last 3 seasons in a backup role. The 32-year-old receiver isn’t going to be confused with Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate be he would be a nice upgrade over Grayson Greiner. Instead, we get to wonder what the Tigers didn’t see in Toledo in Jake Rogers that they didn’t call him up for a look with the black hole that formed behind the dish in the month of September and is left guessing what they are looking to do to help a young pitching staff out for the upcoming season.
There are several other players who you can easily make a case that Big Al could have and kicked the tires on due to the age and upside as much as what they have shown or not shown so far in their major league careers such as David Dahl, somehow just 27 year of age despite seemingly having been talked about for ages from the Rockies, who was a .302/.353/.524 all-star in 2019 before a terrible 2020 mini-season, Brian Goodwin who can play all 3 OF position and had a very nice 2019 campaign along with a solid start to 2020 before struggling mightily after being traded to the Reds, and a few others players written about in detail here by Jon Erkkila.
There were enough young men sent to the bus station with a ticket to nowhere, now searching for their next destination, that are noticeable upgrades over what the Detroit Tigers currently sport that you really have to wonder if the AJ Hinch hiring is the splash for this year. Are we really going to have to suffer through another year of 60 win baseball with little to no effort to field even a semblance of a major league squad while Chris Ilitch decides to wait “until the time is right” to pry that wallet free from the Vulcan death grip he appears to be wielding?
While it may not have been the riches of the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willie for Al Avila to bring home to the long-suffering fans of the Detroit Tigers, there was more than just fools gold. Tomorrow Big Al will be in an open field with that metal detector, searching for the buried treasure without a map, wondering why he didn’t reach out for what was right in front of his eyes yesterday.