Tigers GM Al Avila told team reporters in his end-of-year press conference today that the organization will be looking to shake up its approach to roster building this winter. While Avila was largely and understandably vague on specifics, he made clear that “changes are coming” to how Detroit does business, as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reports on Twitter.
The central issue, Avila suggested, is to avoid the ongoing reliance on high-priced veterans, as Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). “We want to get younger,” he said. “We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means. We want to stay competitive, but at the same time, this organization has been working way above its means for some time.”
The notion that the Detroit organization has been spending “above its means” is certainly notable. Unquestionably, the club — under the leadership of owner Mike Ilitch — has committed huge sums of money to acquire and retain numerous talented players at market prices. That includes not only large extensions for players like Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, but also major free agent outlays for Prince Fielder (who was later traded for Ian Kinsler), Anibal Sanchez, Victor Martinez, and — most recently — Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann.
Many of those big contracts were handed out while the Tigers’ baseball operations were being run by Dave Dombrowski, who Avila replaced last summer. But he oversaw the signings of Upton and Zimmermann last offseason, along with acquisitions of veterans Mike Pelfrey, Francisco Rodriguez, Cameron Maybin, and Mark Lowe. And the front office reportedly talked down Ilitch from a budget-busting offer to slugger Chris Davis. While the club improved to an 86-75 record, it failed to make the postseason for the second consecutive season despite an Opening Day payroll of nearly $200MM.
Ultimately, Avila was not willing to label the team’s upcoming approach as a rebuilding effort, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). And he did not specifically chart a course for how the team will accomplish the stated aim of infusing youth and trimming costs. But he did suggest that some tweaks could be coming, and that they may require some changed expectations for a team that has fashioned itself a perennial contender. “It’s not going to be easy,” said Avila. “But it has to be done.”
The overall thrust of the comments appears to indicate that Detroit may look to reallocate resources as soon as the coming winter. Avila left the impression that the organization won’t be looking to add impact free agents, as Woodberry tweets. And the GM made clear that payroll won’t go up, as Fenech tweets. He also didn’t promise a decline, but seemingly suggested as much. “Usually it will be the opposite,” he said. It’s not immediately clear whether the Tigers could pursue trades of quality veterans in a bid to add younger, controllable talent, but that certainly seems to be a natural course to pursue given Avila’s statements.
Detroit may not pursue a dramatic tear-down, but the precise strategic direction remains to be seen. Avila did note that the Tigers will likely need to add a reserve catcher to pair with James McCann, suggesting his son — Alex Avila — could be considered for a return, as Fenech tweets. The organization has yet to decide on club options over Maybin ($9MM with a $1MM buyout) and Rodriguez ($6MM with a $2MM buyout), the veteran executive added and Fenech tweeted.
If I’m Avila- I’m declining both options, and trading what I can, building around the young rotation- There are plenty of tradeable pieces– PLENTY of them, and Detroit can rebuild their weak farm system easily
Yep they can totally avoid a full rebuild
They should move Cabrera before he starts the decline, and moving Verlander right now would be smart as he’s coming off his first “verlander” Type year since 2012. Get younger, and start over
Who is going to trade for Cabrera? He’s owed $200M+ and he’s 33 (or 34?). No way any team in baseball picks up that contract. They’d have to eat $60M+ to do it, and that doesn’t make sense.
Someone willing to take a package deal of, say, Cabrera and Verlander. Or another player that’s cheaper.
So because it would be difficult dealing a 33 year with a $200M+ contract, you think the obvious solution is to add another 33 year with $100M contract to the deal?
I proposed a trade between the Braves and Tigers for Verlander and got laughed out because JV was supposedly too valuable. My argument was exactly that the deal would save the Tigers big money. and refresh the farm. A package of Blair, Jenkins, Ozzie, Vizcaino and R Ruiz might be enough to entice Det to part with Verlander and Castellanos with no money changing hands. Atlanta has the payroll space and the farm right now.
That wouldn’t happen because of the inclusion of Ozzie Albies. Atlanta will not part with him.
So not only would ATL be willing to give up a big prospect haul….but they’re also taking on a bunch of Verlander’s salary? What lala land were you in when you came up with this trade proposal?
YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND! haha Verlander isn’t worth those players on any planet, and no way the braves eat that salary! haha! Braves can eat some salary and give up maybe jenkins, or just blair… but no way we offer all those players for JV. haha Those guys have a world of talent! I’m ok keeping them all before giving them up 1 for JV.
Verlander has 3yrs left at about 28per and just had a CY caliber type yr. He would cost at least Blair,Viz and Ozzie and Castellanos is a young controllable 3B with power and would cost Jenkins and Rio to start. To get somebody of JVs stature uou have to give to get. It may be a bit high on the prospects, so maybe Detroit sends 20mil back for that package. Blair and Jenkins might benefit greatly from a change of scenery and a huge ballpark to pitch in. Justin comes in at the top with Julio behind him, he also becomes a mentor to Folty as the have similar styles.
Now if the package I mention was offered for Sale would you feel the same?
Eating the entirety of it, you may be right see above response. However the bigger view here is THAT I’m moving redundant, solid players and clearing roster spaces by adding TWO players that fill very big needs. To your point though eating all of the salary is a miscalculation for the quality of the players going, so if we could get 20mil back I think it works out more fairly.
Sale is infinitely cheaper than Verlander, who has had one good season after a couple of really mediocre ones. Sale is also younger has more of a ceiling at this point than Verlander as well.
Excellent reasoning- and insight. Time is now to get rid of Verlander and Cabrera.. Have to resist temptation of trading for a player like Bautista. On another issue, Tigers have worst ball park in majors. Fans are furthest away of any park. Metaphor for team.being out of touch. Even have paid usher with back to catcher looking into stans for fans up to no good. Bad
Why would you decline Maybin’s option? At $9M, and with the terrible free agent market, that’s a steal.
Agreed. I’d option both and trade them, though K-Rod was great. Just overused.
Maybin has a problem staying healthy and on he field.
Maybin has never had 1 healthy season. He’s a .259/.322/.373 career slash and averages 80 games per season. His speed and defense isn’t what it used to be. DET could turn down the option and Maybin won’t sniff $9M on the open market.
Maybin played 141 games in ’15.
Chris Young inked a 2 year 13M deal last offseason:
CY’s ’14 bWAR 1.2 OPS+ 109 OPS .773
CM’s ’15 bWAR 1.9 (46 less games) OPS+ 120 OPS .801
It’s going to take a long, long time for Detroit to make a dramatic turn. They have nearly $83M in guaranteed money through 2020, and it only drops to $52M in 2021. All of the guys signed through then will be in their mid-to-upper 30s by then.
I do think they can make some small steps toward their goals, but I don’t think you see it accomplished for 4-5 seasons, and they might have to go full rebuild in the midst of it.
I just wanna say kudos to whoever selected the apocalyptic photo attached to this article. “Changes are Coming”. LOL
Right!? Boss photo.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I can see this happening with more teams over time, for a few different reasons. First of all, in cities like Detroit, with a lot of people out of work, the fan base is bound to decline as people continue to move elsewhere in search of employment. Secondly, MLB’s audience is aging, as the game is too slow for most younger people, which is also shrinking the fan base. Thirdly, the first two reasons will eventually lead to less money available to overpay baseball players, and salaries will have to come down at the top…if not, then some teams will either have to file bankruptcy or move to an untapped market with fans eager to pledge allegiance to a new team. For these reasons, and more, I don’t see MLB being as successful in the future as they are now, unless they adopt a salary cap, along with a salary floor. But the players union, in their perpetual greedy way, will never let that happen, which will only accelerate the contraction of teams, to the point where only the big markets will b able to sustain a team. Then, supply and demand for players will cause salaries to naturally decrease, since the remaining teams will b able to afford only so many $20M players. Baseball’s glory days are in the rear view mirror, I’m afraid, and some days of reckoning aren’t too far off, IMHO, but the powers that be will only have themselves to blame.
Why does MLB need a salary cap? Where is your proof? The NFL, NBA, and NHL all have salary caps…are any of those leagues more successful (because of their cap) than MLB? Is there more parity? No, on both counts. MLB does just fine without a salary cap, and they don’t have one because their union is strong enough—and their players generally don’t live paycheck to paycheck like many players in the NFL & NBA, and can afford to sit out if the owners try to ram one down their throats.
First of all, MLB needs a salary cap AND floor to get the huge salaries under control, before the sport gets crushed by the sheer unsustainability of it all. Secondly, my “proof” is simple economics. As to your next point, unless you’ve been living in a cave, the NFL has been more successful than MLB for quite some time now. Also, something else I failed to point out is that not as many kids in the USA are playing baseball as in days gone by, again because of the slow pace of the game, so that will cause shortages of quality players in the future, IMHO, which will make the game less relevant with future generations. Look, I love baseball, and would love to see it continue to thrive, but as Nobel Peace Prize singer Bob Dylan has said, the times they are a changin’, and MLB needs to adapt to stay relevant.
They should just try and have a limit on the terms of contracts, like 5 or 6 year contracts. in the new contract negotiations.
And Latin players don’t play football do I fail to see the shortage. Actually only American kids play football. Baseball is global where the NFL beats baseball in the US globally baseball trumps the football. You had a better argument for soccer.
“First of all, MLB needs a salary cap AND floor to get the huge salaries under control, before the sport gets crushed by the sheer unsustainability of it all.”
Where is it unsustainable? MLB revenues have been growing at a record pace, teams and players are making more money, and teams that ten years ago sold for $500-$700M are now selling for billions. Yeah, seems their finances are out of whack.
“As to your next point, unless you’ve been living in a cave, the NFL has been more successful than MLB for quite some time now. ”
Apparently you can’t read. My question was not are any of those leagues more successful financially, my question was is the reason for the NFL’s financial success due strictly to their salary cap system?
“Also, something else I failed to point out is that not as many kids in the USA are playing baseball ”
And far fewer kids in Latin American countries, and Asian countries are playing football, basketball, and hockey. Many in those countries play baseball, and with the global aspects of sports these days it’s not as hard to replenish talent from foreign market. Yes, a lot of American kids aren’t playing baseball the way they used to, but it hasn’t hurt the game’s population.
A salary cap is going to do nothing to make or keep MLB relevant. They do not have one now, nor will they ever because their players won’t allow it. And there is no need. America does not need socialism, nor does MLB.
No other league had long-term failures of small market teams like the Pirates and Royals. And they’re simply in a fortunate window right now…both had a very strong run of maturing young players, but they’re both already preparing for decline. It’s a long established fact that with no barriers, rich teams can afford to just dump contracts like Crawford and A-Rod. In salary cap land, teams would have been stuck with these players and wouldn’t be able to replace them…hence the stronger need for wisdom in signings.
You’re not serious are you? Do you know how many teams have never won a superbowl? There are 13 teams. 13/32 teams (40%) have never won a superbowl.
In MLB 6 out of 30 (20%) have never won a world series.
What about playoffs in general? Every MLB team has made the playoffs since 2001..
They absolutely need a cap. Players getting 200 million dollar contracts, like David Price, and what did the Red Sox get in return? Price didn’t have a good season, and they got bounced out the playoffs.
Teams are knowledgeable enough to assess that from a baseball and business perspective. They make plenty of money in the current system. I don’t see any evidence to suggest a cap is needed.
Are you serious about the NBA?? Guaranteed contracts out of the wazoo! I was rolling with you until that part. If you are tall
And can breathe you can make millions
Are you talking about me?
There is absolutely no reason for MLB to have a salary cap. The TV contracts are what runs baseball economics. Stop looking at the game as guys being paid to play the game we grew up playing. The reality is the game is an entertainment conglomerate and should be treated as such. Look at it like your favorite tv show being on 13 out of every 14 days for 8 months out of the year. Take what an actor gets paid for the 8 months it takes to shoot a movie and compare it to what players make only difference is when the movie is over and it’s in theatres ppl watch it once then maybe again when it comes on DVD and then maybe 1 or 2 times when it hits cable or HBO. Tom Cruise makes more than any baseball player and u may watch him once a year. These players entertain you everyday for 8 months. And even keep you occupied in the offseason on sites like this.
Please stop comparing players to your jobs and what you get paid and start comparing them to the ppl on their level.
And as far as prices for going to games tix, parking, food, beer etc. that has little to no effect on player salaries what so ever. That money strictly funds the stadium leases, employees, grounds crews, parking attendants security etc.
in effect owners would probably prefer ppl to stay home than to go to games because the more ppl that watch on tv the more money they can charge for advertising.
The game is perfectly made for tv because how often can you devote every evening to a game but I bet you can devote a couple innings every night to watch. And devote every morning a few minutes to a website or newspaper.
Sports are not the real world it’s the entertainment world !!!!!!!!!
I don’t think I have ever agreed with you on anything, but this is very well put
Adopting a salary cap only puts more money in the owners pockets. The money is there either way. Didnt Forbes value the Yankees at 3 Billion dollars? What where the Dodgers bought for, 2? A league that has multiple billion dollar franchises is not going to be crushed under the weight of 20 million dollar contracts. Finally there is revenue sharing, so detroit can fall off the face of the earth and the team will still have some semblance of a roster.
or these are just unsubstantiated narratives…
is there any correlation to playing youth baseball and watching the MLB?
I didn’t play past 3rd grade (and wasn’t very interested in it) and now baseball is my favorite sport to watch.
Detroit is light years better than it was in 2009. Restaurants and stores everywhere. Housing values downtown up 100%.. Young professionals people walking around downtown at night… both living and working in the city. 1pm Thursday games now a hot ticket.
Tigers revenue has been stable for a decade. They have variable pricing now which allows them to keep inflow of cash even if attendance is down slightly.
This has more to do with strategy than budget.
It wouldn’t be easy for the Tigers organization and fans but they should consider trading Miguel Cabrera. He would bring them back a big return of young talented players. Maybe even consider trading Upton to free up some money. He would also get them a few prospects.
Who would trade for Cabrera with the money he’s owed? Yes, the Tigers know that his production is likely to begin declining soon…but so does the rest of the baseball. It’s not like some team is going to give up huge prospects and pick up $200M+ plus he’s owed. Not happening unless Detroit agrees to eat $100M, and at that point what’s the point of trading him?
Boston Red Sox and DD.
With as much money as Cabrera and Upton are making NO ONE is going to trade for them, especially if the Tigers expect to get back “a few prospects.”
Boston Red Sox under DD
Upton has a no trade clause.
Teams get old and slow and cleaning house has to happen. But over paying under achieveing players seem to be the habit. And soon or later Scott Boris will see less and less teams to over bargain with… 2018 is loaded with free agents.. too many for slots available
We’ll see. A major rebuild and slashing payroll seems at odds with an octagenarian owner desperate for a title. Plus, the current payroll is set up for a big slash next off season. Standing pat will add about $12M to the current payroll with arbitration raises. Their biggest contracts, Verlander, Victor Martinez, Cabrera Upton, and Zimmermann are not moved easily, not without the Tigers having to eat big chucks of those contracts. Plus, Verlander and Cabrera were signed with the intention of them retiring as Tigers. They make the turnstiles move. Slashing payroll this year could easily mean finding takers for Anibal Sanchez, Mark Lowe, and Mike Pelfrey. Could mean not picking up Maybin’s option and going with Jacoby Jones in CF. But if the orders are to start moving the expensive talent,moving JD Martinez a year prior to his free agency, then Mr Ilitch has resigned himself to dying without that title, becasue it will be a few years before they will be contenders again.
The two players with the most value in trade (other than the cheap young pitchers) are Kinsler and JD Martinez. Kinsler is nearing the end of his contract, as is JD. JD is going to get expensive in arbitration, and they may not want to commit the big dollars to keep him from FA. Kinsler is getting older, and further years will probably result in declining performance. The problem is that their most glaring need will become filling whatever hole they create. With the exception of the bullpen, all the starting roles are filled. There are some veterans, but most of the roster is young, which is an ideal mix for contending.
McCann at C, Miggy, Kinsler, Iglesias and Castellanos in the IF. JD, Maybin and JUp in the OF. Victor at DH. Verlander, Zimmermann, Fullmer, Boyd, & Norris in the rotation. K-Rod, Alex and Justin Wilson, along with Rondon in the pen.
The Change in the way of doing business might be because they need so little. They need to improve the bench, and they need more depth in the bullpen. That hardly leads me to believe they are going to blow up the roster.
If they are able to move Anibel, Pelfrey and Lowe in salary dump moves, they should have enough to pick a Lefty backup catcher, and some minor league signings to improve the bench, and cherry pick a FA reliever that gets overlooked. That would be a change.
“But who’s going to artificially drive up player salaries now?” Mr. MLBPA said as he sighed in disappointment.
What gets the MLB salary structure in order for the future is when team stations have to start charging ppl like HBO and Cinemax stuff like that. People that don’t like baseball are going to start not wanting to pay for things they don’t wanna watch.
A good place to start the change in philosophy would be the international free agent period next year. Spend some of the money they saved on Chris Davis.
JV isn’t getting any younger. After the year he had this year, I wouldn’t be shocked if they try to move him during the winter meetings.
“Changes a comin”?!?!? Every offeason you make huge changes and nothing works. Cespedes, Zimmerman, Upton.. must I go on?
Think the Tigers would be best served to stand pat and make another run at contention with the team they have in place. KC’s window is closing (if not closed), Minnesota stinks, the White Sox are likely to either rebuild or stay stagnant, and we’ve already seen the injury risks of building a great pitching staff with the Mets. Cleveland’s probably the favorite moving forward, but it’s not far-fetched to see the Tigers competing next year
Cleveland has a darned good team. That will be the case next year too.
Miggy and JV both have full no trade clauses. Neither of them will be traded. Regardless, of their pay, both still provide major value to their club and can still be built around. It’s the others (upton, zimm, kinsler, jd, Iglesias, even castellanos) who can be traded for cheaper, younger players while clearing up payroll.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Actually, 100% right.
I’d be willing to trade anyone but fulmer, miggy, and jv. Norris and boyd can be had, but only if someone offers you someone better and younger, which is unlikely given that they are already young and talented. Really anyone else can be had for the right price, but I expect if the tigers make trades, it’s going to be mostly for big league pieces, unless they get offered a prospect they can’t say no to.
The Tigers are in a bad spot, it will be hard for them to dump salary and get a great return. They might contend next year if Zimmerman and Verlander stay healthy, I would wait and see what develops and trade at the deadline. They still have a good team. on paper.
Tigers trade Cabrera and that will automatically dismantle the all lineup just like when the A’s traded Céspedes… It changed the A’s team dynamics ultimately losing to the Royals in that playoff game back 2014…
They can’t. Miggy, Verlander, and Zimmerman (until 2018) have full- no trade clauses
A full No trade clause does not mean they can’t trade them, it just means it is harder to make the trade happen.
True, but how frequent are trades with players with full no trade clauses? Both have also made statements about being tigers for life. That makes me think it’s not very likely to say the least
The moves they made last winter was for a 2 year push for the playoffs. Players with contracts ending after 2017 are: Sanchez and Kinsler,(both with $5mm buyouts in ’18),K-Rod and Maybin(both options in ’17 will be picked up),Lowe,Pelfrey and J.D.Martinez. Justin Upton could opt. out after next year if he has a solid ’17.
I don’t see them making any big changes since they were almost a playoff team even with the injuries. Plus Mr. Illich wants a title and he is going to get a big payday if the TV ratings stay high.Detroit ranked 3rd in highest ratings for local TV, right behind KC and St.Louis in 2016.Their TV contract is up in 2018 with Fox, and I see Illich wanting to keep the team battling for the Central Crown in ’17.
I expect them to try and move one of Pelfrey or Sanchez with Sanchez being first choice.
Both had similar years and Sanchez has a higher upside as a comeback player,but is owed twice as much plus the buyout. Both the upside and ’18 option could be selling points as his $16.8mm salary is fine if someone feels he will produce as a #3 SP. Pelfrey and his $8mm salary will be a good backup starter and bullpen help. They will most likely have all three kids (Fulmer, Boyd, and Norris) as part of the Opening Day rotation and will need some insurance SP.
The biggest issue and drama for the winter season is if Detroit decides to give J.D. a long term contract. He is a fan favorite, likes Detroit and really appreciated the opportunity Avila and Detroit gave him after he was released by Houston. The wild card is Upton and how strongly Detroit feels he will bolt after “17.
They are adopting an AGILE methodology. Makes sense.
Tradeable assets? JD and Kinsler.
Iglesias is tradable with Machado as the replacement.
Wild card spot is within reach with current roster and few (inexpensive) tweaks for 2017. Of course if a team with a deep farm was interested in some of the expensive veterans (and they were willing to be moved) before the trade dead line it should be investigated. Assuming the team is out of contention.
DD gutted the farm and created an out of control salary situation. Avila has to do better than DD at drafting, developing and KEEPING young talent. I doubt the team can move some of the crazy salaries so do the best with what they have and draft & develop in the interim.
If you look at what DD traded, few if any developed for the team that traded for them. Andrew Miller was long out of Miami before he turned the corner. Not much of a gutting took place. Scouting and coaching is where the improvement is needed. Drafting is always a function of where they pick. Other than St. Louis, and they are not where they once were, farm systems do well when the Major League team struggles. Detroit hasn’t struggled. Other than Scherzer, who got the highest salary in baseball, who have they failed to keep that they wanted to keep?
So much BS going on after a simple comment by Avila that there will be changes (Duh!), it suddenly morphs into a full rebuild or trading Verlander and Cabrera, which is all nonsense.
They’re not going to trade the anchor of a very good and mostly controllable starting staff in ’17, and they don’t need to get younger. The team was about the same age as the Indians at the start of the season, and the only key hitters over 33 are Cabrera, Victor and Kinsler, so where’s all that aging? They do need to move some people who will be difficult to trade, so we’ll see some outright releases and some salary eaten, but they will be left with a contender and 3 Million attendance, and that’s all you can ask for.
Like what was already said nobody is going to give up young controlable future stars for aging over paid veterans! You are what you eat and at this point Detroit is stuck with the long term moves they have made. Signing Upton after nobody else wanted him to that huge contract showed how desperate the owner was to win NOW! Over time it will only get worse as all these players decline further!
Hal Steinbrenner of the Yankees has been trying to correct the mistakes his father made over the last decade and to do so the Yankees have now missed the playoffs two years in a row as they continue to dump contracts and acquire younger controlable talent..
Move Cabrera. He doesn’t have many years left like this and regardless of his contract, he’ll bring back a major haul. You could get a few MLB ready or almost MLB ready top prospects or a bunch of very young high risk/high reward guys. Which is best? Who knows. I’d go for the very young guys if the return could be way more.
They aren’t winning the World Series next year so start building to a time when hopefully you can.
No other teams will want to take on the contracts of verlander and miggy
Prediction- the Tigers are changing their name. There are no real tigers in Detroit so they will adopt a name more representative.
Detroit Empty Houses
Detroit Chubby Ladies
Detroit Cheaply Made Cars