Tigers general manager Al Avila appeared on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today and discussed the lack of activity on the trade front for the Tigers since sending Cameron Maybin to the Angels on the first day of the offseason (All Twitter links via MLB.com’s Jason Beck). “I had many conversations through the winter, but nothing to the point where I felt we were going to make a trade,” Avila stated. “I thought there was going to be opportunity. That never really developed to that point where I was close to calling ownership. … Frankly, ownership has not told me to dump salary. Basically they asked me: If you can make a good baseball trade, that’s great.” Those comments cast doubt on the Tigers’ ability to trade of one of their veterans before the season begins, although the Dodgers reportedly could circle back to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler now that their talks for Brian Dozier have reached an impasse. Kinsler has a no-trade clause that includes the Dodgers, but his agent told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal a couple of months ago that the clause could be waived in exchange for a contract extension.
A few more notes pertaining to the AL Central…
- Earlier today, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reported that the Twins have met with Jose Bautista’s agent and are doing their due diligence on the top bats left on the market. That obviously raised an eyebrow or two, and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey explained to KSTP’s Chris Long that the Twins aren’t ruling out any opportunities this winter (video link). Falvey was asked specifically about the report linking the Twins to Bautista, and while he sidestepped a specific comment on the longtime Blue Jays star, he didn’t rule out that type of addition, either. “We’ll continue to monitor all potential avenues for players, whether it’s free agents or trades,” said Falvey. “…For every potential free agent that’s out there, [GM Thad Levine], [assistant GM Rob Antony], me — our group — we have our list of everyone who’s still unsigned and values where we think it would make sense. I wouldn’t shut the door on any player out there right now, even if it was slightly unconventional.” Falvey added that the Minnesota front office “has [owner Jim Pohlad’s] blessing” to pursue free agent additions.
- White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada, who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston, tells CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes that the magnitude of being a part of such a high-profile trade isn’t lost on him. “I also have expectations about myself because of the trade,” Moncada said via his interpreter. “This team gave up a lot to get me. I feel very humbled for this opportunity.” Moncada said that despite playing some third base last year with the Red Sox, his natural position of second base is his “favorite” position to play, and he hopes to remain there. However, as was the case in Boston, Moncada said he’d be willing to move anywhere on the diamond if asked by the ChiSox.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that another key piece in that Sale trade, right-hander Michael Kopech, has changed representation and is now a client of CAA Sports. The 20-year-old Kopech boasts a triple-digit fastball and split the 2016 season between the White Sox’ Low-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates, making a dozen starts and compiling a 2.08 ERA. Kopech tossed 56 1/3 innings, and while he battled his control (33 walks, five hit batters, 11 wild pitches), he also racked up an impressive 86 strikeouts against much older competition (especially in High-A). His switch is now reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
- Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti tells MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian that top outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer could make his MLB debut in 2017. That’s not a surprising revelation after Zimmer, a former first-round pick and a consensus top 50 prospect in MLB, enjoyed a solid season at Double-A and reached Triple-A late in the 2016 season. Bastian writes that the current plan for the Cleveland outfield is for Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer to platoon in right field, with Tyler Naquin handling center on most days, Michael Brantley returning to left field and Abraham Almonte functioning as the primary fourth outfielder (possibly helping to shield Naquin from some lefties). Further injury problems for Brantley, regression from Naquin or an injury elsewhere on the roster could create an opening for the 24-year-old Zimmer. Bastian, though, also notes that Cleveland could still pursue a trade for an affordable center field option. Recent comments from GM Mike Chernoff suggest that Cleveland is mostly tapped out in terms of payroll after signing Edwin Encarnacion, though, so any acquisition would need to be very low-cost in nature.