The Tigers announced on Friday that they have signed free agent infielder Mike Aviles to a one-year, Major League contract. Aviles will receive $2MM plus a possible $300K in incentives, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. The 34-year-old Aviles is represented by The Legacy Agency.
Aviles has spent the bulk of his career in the American League Central, as his first four-and-a-half seasons were spent with the Royals, and he’s spent the past three years in Cleveland. He’ll be a depth piece in Detroit — a veteran right-handed bat that can serve as a backup at second base, third base, shortstop and in the corner outfield as well. In spite of that versatility, though, Aviles hasn’t hit much in recent seasons, batting a collective .244/.279/.345 over his three-year tenure with the Indians and posting an OPS+ of just 61 last season.
Though defensive metrics peg Aviles as below average around the infield this past season, he received positive marks in left field and has traditionally received positive marks at shortstop. (Given his age, questions about his range are at least fair to ask.) There’s value for any team in having a player who can capably handle four to five positions, though, even if he’s not a plus defender at any of those spots. And, given the presence of Andrew Romine on Detroit’s roster, manager Brad Ausmus will have a pair of highly versatile players to mix and match when other players incur injuries, need a day off or have been removed from games for various reasons.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com first reported the agreement, on Twitter.
Nice scoop by the Tigers. Great utility guy to have on the team!
GREAT: way below average in everything, entering his age-35 season.
Actually, he’s graded out well defensively at SS, and he has hit better than what we have had off the bench in the past few years: Raburn (in his bad years), Kelly, Marte, Suarez… Not too worried about the age of anyone on a one year deal.
I agree with everything you say, but don’t you think Romine handles the defensive end of that statement at SS and the bat we need is a Lefty Unless he is going to play more OF than IF., this signing is a ????
Currently, the other options were Marte or Dixon. Aviles is a step up. Marte hasn’t played OF, and Dixon is better off playing everyday at AAA, than sitting on the bench. If the Tigers do not contend, Dixon will be needed when they look to trade Iglesias at the deadline. Kelly Johnson is the only multi position bench player from the left side on the market, and he has not played well defensively at 3B, nor do I think he is an improvement over Collins in LF. Aviles still could have a role on this team even if they acquire a LF.
At first, I thought “Boring!, Waste signing” However, looking at past statistics, when Mike Aviles got more playing time, he wasn’t a superstar but he was” under the radar” good. He had some pop but didn’t strike out in excess. He stole some bases but didn’t get caught very often. He drove in runs and scored at the bottom of the order on mediocre offensive teams. The bad numbers I see is that he doesn’t walk much and seems to have low defensive range..
I’m betting Romine will be the main Utility guy with Aviles swapping in at short if Iglesias gets hurt
Can’t wait to see if the Tigers all shave their heads!
Meh, I kinda hope it’s a MiLB deal w/ camp invite. Worth -1.4 WAR the last 3 years, below average defense, and frankly, not worth a 25-man spot at this point, IMO. Sure he’s a utility guy, but…mehhhhh
There should be no reason to get too excited or depressed in the signing of a 25th man. But this move is somewhat interesting to me in that Aviles seems to be an infielder who can,in a pinch, play the corners. And by the defensive metrics I looked at,(baseball-reference) he is very marginal in the OF and could have a difficult time covering all the real estate in Detroit.
It seemed all the talk since the winter meeting had Avila stating they were looking for a utility player that was a right handed bat to be used in both IF and OF. They stressed he be a right handed bat to be able to platoon with our lefthanded hitters. That could only be Gose and Collins, both outfielders. That told me they were looking for a utility guy with a stronger OF background while having Romine for the infield.
That does not seem to be Aviles. They could be holding the door open,just a crack, in case any FA outfielders slide back down into a more palatable income range.
They have one extra outfielder for 3 positions. They have one extra infielder for 4 positions plus the need for Romine to be a late inning defensive replacement at third. Thus, the 25th guy needs to be an infielder first. Romine and/or Aviles will only play outfield in a short term pinch.
What this does is keep the door open for the owner to replace Collins with Cespedes if he is so inclined.
You mirrored the thought from my post in a much more concise way. We can only hope they get to land Gordon,or Cespedes .
Span would be a better fit, be cheaper, and wont cost a draft pick.
I thought they needed to get either a solid leadoff man (Aoki, Span, etc.) or a power hitter. They got neither in Maybin but he is a good average hitter with solid defensive skills. Their thinking must be that either Gose or Iggy will grow into the leadoff in 2016 and the power hitter is out of their price ranged for now.
Intersting fact I learned at Baseball-Reference about Maybin was he had his most success hitting 2nd in the order.Maybe Kinsler will leadoff. They are really putting a lot of trust in the scouting of Maybin to feel he will be the answer for the OF.
Regarding Aviles., it is not that I don’t like him, he will be a good bench player. It is that they seem to need another”outfield first” RHH to rotate with Gose and Collins. They must have thought that later in the winter it will be “slim pickens” for a guy that can play both IF and OF, so they pulled the trigger.
Remember when tigers fans chanted “whoah whoah whoah” as Aviles performed his ceiling fan simulation batting stance? Good times…
Always like mike, cheap…. And low risk
Turn Two Trammell
I’d love a huge LF signing like Cespedes, but Collins was a top 5 prospect last year and so was Moya. The Maybin deal isn’t a whole lot different than the signing of JD was, first round talent that hadn’t fully put it together yet. Just saying this team only wins the Central if our stars stay healthy and perform to their abilities. We have another season of JV being a #4 pitcher and not the guy we saw end the season and it won’t matter who is playing LF.
Turn Two Trammell
Regarding this signing in particular… There are only two “utility” players anyone would be excited about. One just signed a massive deal with the Cubs and the other is in Pittsburg. If Aviles were a .300 hitter he would be an everyday player and not a utility player. MLB rosters need a few of these guys. They are set up for that potential trade deadline pickup and have the opportunity for a youngster to come up and contribute without being reliant on them doing so.
It seems that I’m in the minority by hoping the Tigers stay away from overpriced free agents. In the recent past, generally, the Tigers were built by accumulating established power Starting Pitchers but neglected the Bullpen. They acquired good hitters but neglected speed and defense. Great for “roto” but real world imbalanced
To protect pitching, teams need players with high defensive range. The end of the game is where most games are won or lost. The Tigers relif corps could barely hold leads let alone win games. On the offensive side, although the hitters got on base, they were generally poor runners when they did get on. Combining poor running with their high struck out rates, they rarely put pressure on opposing teams defenses.
Tiger teams were the master of the late season swoon. They were old. Historically, good teams had at least one good rookie every year and replaced older players. They Tigers concentrated on veterans and Managers.
TRUTH: In the 1970s, the Tigers hired Ralph Houk to manage and assemble the team while they developed players and the Manager in the minors. That target Manager wasn’t Jim Leyland, it was Gene LaMonte.
That is why Leyland left. He was not the “chosen” one at that time. What a surprise that that regime made a poor choice.
That may have been the result in the last few years but it was not the plan. Signing and trading players always requires a little luck. They either perform as good or better than expected or they under-perform due to decline or injury. The Tigers with lucky with starters like Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez more often than not. With relievers it was the opposite. DD was criticized for signing Benoit for 3/$15 in 2010 but that worked out well. Even Valverde worked out for a year. However, they were unlucky with talented guys like Coke, Al Al, Ryan Perry, Schlereth, etc. who just couldn’t turn the corner to be at least solid 7th or 8th guys. It is also unluckly when you sign the best FA closer, Nathan, and then trade for the best reliever in the AL, Soria, and both go in the tank the minute they pitch for your team.
Adding Prince changed them from a balanced team to a slow, poor defense team. He was signed to potentially replace VMart if his he couldn’t come back from his knee injury. Miggy is a very solid 1B & should have won a Gold Glove in 2014. Inge’s range at 3B made up for Peralta’s lack of range at SS. Prince at 1B & Miggy at 3B highlighted the lack of range and Miggy/Prince/VMart at 3/4/5 highlighted the lack of speed. That was never the plan which was why Prince was traded once VMart returned.
Now that the Tigers appear to be done rebuilding the team. What are we looking at? Contender or pretender for the playoffs, the Center Division and World Series?
Miggy will finally have a full offseason to train and should come back healthy and start strong. In September JV showed how he can pitch when healthy, so he should start strong as well. If VMart comes back healthy he’s shown he can hit. He won’t have 2014’s .565 SLG, but should be good for .450-.470. Sanchez is a question mark but he’s the #3 guy now and may become #4 if Norris continues to improve. The new bullpen should work well and Nick C. is more likely to repeat his 2nd half 2015 numbers (269/.322/.478/.800) which will make up for weaker bats in the OF. They should certainly be a contender and if younger players like Collins, Gose, Iggy, McCann, and even Maybin show improvement they could be a strong contender. Alternatively, if VMart can’t find his swing or gets hurt again, Kinsler declines, and Miggy or JV get hurt again this team quickly becomes mediocre again.
There are very few guys that actually play both OF and IF positions so with Collins/Gose/Maybin all having issues with hitting LHP consistently the 2nd utility guy had to be able to play both and Aviles makes sense. He may start in the OF against and LH starter, but only Maybin is really struggling. Instead he’s going to PH for the left fielder against LH relievers and possibly play 3B late in games after Nick C has hit if Romine is already in the lineup.
While I have never liked Ryan Raburn, even before he became a favorite target for Tiger fans, I was hoping they might sign him to come off the bench. His defense is brutal but he can crush LHP.
No, no more Rayburn