It’s not always fair to judge baseball operations leaders for free agent signings. In many cases, the biggest contracts are negotiated to varying extents by ownership. The same can hold true of major extensions. It’s just tough to know from the outside.
There’s obviously involvement from above in trade scenarios as well. But, when it comes to exchanging rights to some players for others, it stands to reason the role of the general manager is all the more clear.
In any event, for what it’s worth, it seemed an opportune moment to take a look back at the trade track records of some of the general managers around the game. After covering the Diamondbacks’ Mike Hazen, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the Brewers’ David Stearns, the Angels’ Billy Eppler, the Rockies’ Jeff Bridich, and the White Sox’ Rick Hahn, let’s check out the work of Tigers GM Al Avila. Since he took over for Dave Dombrowski in surprising fashion in August of 2015, here’s what Avila has done on the trade market (in chronological order and excluding minor deals; full details at transaction link.)
- Acquired INF Javier Betancourt from Brewers for RHP Francisco Rodriguez
- Acquired OF Cameron Maybin from Braves for LHP Ian Krol and LHP Gabe Speier
- Acquired LHP Justin Wilson from Yankees for RHP Luis Cessa and RHP Chad Green
- Acquired RHP Victor Alcantara from Tigers for OF Cameron Maybin
- Acquired OF Mikie Mahtook from Rays for cash
- Acquired INF Dawel Lugo, INF Sergio Alcantara and INF Jose King from Diamondbacks for OF J.D. Martinez
- Acquired INF Jeimer Candelario and SS Isaac Paredes from Cubs for LHP Justin Wilson and C Alex Avila
- Acquired RHP Grayson Long and RHP Elvin Rodriguez from Angels for OF Justin Upton
- Acquired RHP Franklin Perez, OF Daz Cameron and C Jake Rogers from Astros for RHP Justin Verlander
- Acquired RHP Wilkel Hernandez and OF Troy Montgomery from Angels for 2B Ian Kinsler
- Acquired SS Willi Castro and RHP Kyle Dowdy from Indians for OF Leonys Martin
- Acquired RHP Nolan Blackwood (link) & RHP Logan Shore (link) from Athletics for RHP Mike Fiers
- Acquired RHP Paul Richan and RHP Alex Lange from Cubs for OF Nicholas Castellanos
- Acquired LHP Joey Wentz and OF Travis Demeritte from Braves for RHP Shane Greene
What do you think of Avila’s trade history? (Poll link for app users.)
Al Avila is one of the worst gms in Detroit history.
I take it you don’t follow Detroit sports, because that’s far from accurate.
What are his positives? Decent drafter? That’s probably where the positives stop.
Yeah, I guess he’s supposed to get all kinds of ‘attaboy’s and pats on the back for picking at the top of the draft repeatedly. I’ll give him credit (so far), for what Skubal has shown. Other than that, he’s got flat out nothing to show for the studs and/or minor talent he’s dealt.
We can properly assess Avila’s job because we aren’t Tiger fans. Can’t trade, can’t time the trade, aided by draft position and even that doesn’t help the guy. But please tell us why Avila is a gem of a GM.
Who said he was a gem? I was replying to the trolls hired by Matt Millen’s PR agent
That’s a darn good answer. Well played. And I do agree.
Anthopoulos next! What are you waiting for?
You got your wish!!!
About to be some real salty comments
I’m just here for the saltiness!!
Declined Bregman or Baez for Fulmer as well
Michael Fulmer could still be good after all his surgeries though, and then get traded for the next Javy Baez. But that’s too far away to tell.
How about the next Javy Baez for Michael Fulmer and a surgery to be named later?
Hindsight is always 2020. He goes to Cubs and wins a Cy Young he gets skewered.
Fulmer’s claim to fame is a career 3.95FIP and 2.5BB:7K/9 ratio. That just screams Cy Young, right?
Not the point. You trade a guy like Fulmer, it could have easily gone south. Getting the right prospects is a crapshoot. He makes that trade & he gets hurt, Al looks like a hero. It’s not an enviable position to trade your best pitcher & miss.
Doesn’t it look like Al’s return on JV looks bad now with all the players in Houston’s system they picked the wrong 3!
Not the point = let me move the goalposts. You went from implying there was even the possibility someone like Fulmer could have (even with perfect health), had a snowballs chance in hell of winning a Cy Young, to “getting the right prospects for him would’ve been a “crapshoot.”
It’s OK to hold people accountable for doing a bad job. Avila has been flat out horrendous at his job, and got REWARDED for it last year, getting an extension.
It’s not something you can defend, no matter how many times you move the goalposts.
Unaware those offers actually happened. please provide sources.
Don’t need to, this isn’t a research paper. Google it or look for the tweets yourself. Its very well known at this point.
Going into 2017, when the alleged trade talks occurred, Fulmer was coming off a 3.06 ERA in 154 innings, good for 5.4 bWAR.. Baez had a .737 OPS with a poor OBP (.314) contributing to his 2.8 WAR total.
It’s impossible to make an argument for Baez as a better asset at the time of the trade talks. Few people if anyone thought Baez would become the hitter he has been the last two years. Fulmer had plenty of pedigree and early success and out WARed Baez in both 2016 and 2017 before succumbing to injury while Baez blew up.
Avila turning down Baez for Fulmer only looks bad in hindsight. You can argue that good GMs should be able to identify breakout talent but Baez’s current version of success is so unique it would have been irresponsible to bet on at the time.
As for Bregman, there was never real substance to those rumors and it’s speculated the idea may have been ‘floated’ but the Tigers didn’t reject an offer because there was never a formal one on the table.
Baez was always high risk, but the upside was always there… And he did rake everywhere he played.
Surprised by the “D” rating. Don’t really follow the Tigers that much, but seems he’s shed a lot of salary and older players for prospects.
He has the right idea and approach. But this was asking us to grade his trades. Most Tigers fans don’t feel he’s been strong at negotiations. Missed opportunities with Fulmer, unrealistic demand for Boyd, and not maximizing the returns on JV and JD.
Watching Hahn extract value+ through trades in Chicago likely taints our view as fans as well.
“Shedding salary” is what you call it when you repeatedly fail to move players that had perceived value at the time.
He got a better return for Castellanos than he did for Verlander. That’s all I’ll say.
They are going nowhere, absolute garbage
I was trying to come up with something witty, but I keep coming back to aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Acquired RHP Victor Alcantara from Angels (not Tigers)… that is all 🙂
Avila’s tenure is pretty bad.. The team has very few minor league hitters with a legitimate chance of being an impact big leaguer as well. (Outside of Riley Greene)
Essentially every prospect he’s traded for stock has dropped after. Joey Wentz looked like he might’ve been a rare exception but unfortunately he just had TJ. Avila better pray Mize, Manning, and Skubal are all homeruns. If they aren’t—he’s as good as gone.
Tigers need a young GM with balls & vision.
Acquired K Rod for Javier B
INF Javier B nonetheless.
And Manny (Pineapple) Pina was part of that deal.
The Late Al Avila.
Brad Ausmus was a better manager than Al Avila is a GM, and there you have the current and recent-past predicaments, Tiger fans. From wasted talent to zero talent.
There might not be one lasting starter in the entire Avila Fire Sale haul. Willi Castro may be the only one. Maybe. Disgraceful.
Under his brilliant gaze, and it’s been awhile now, the team can’t draft a position player. Busts all.
How is this not an F?
Ausmus was one of the worst, most overrated managers in recent memory. Him and Avila are a coin flip.
At least he’s not a nepotist
Little Alvie A. just dropped his strawberry jam toast in response to this comment.
Fucking weird ass comment…
they must’ve dropped the language filter.
This guy gets my vote for worst GM in the league.
There are some absolute future GMs in here! Wow! First off, the worst GM in Detroit sports history? Ok, ever hear of Randy Smith or Matt Millen? Nothing need more said on that. But he has done a decent job removing mistakes made by the awesome late Mr. Illitch. Getting a bag of balls and a keg of Bud would’ve been great, just to get Prince Fielder off your payroll and he did that, AND got Ian Kinsler for 3 years to boot. Had to pay off $6M per year to Rangers for a bit but it was much better than the HUGE number that was left on that contact. Nobody was doling out multiple prospects for all hit- no field OFs like JD and Castellanos at the deadlines they were traded in. He’s lucky he got anything for NC b/c there was NOTHING being offered for him. He fleeced the Cubs when trading Alex Avila and Justin Wilson. And as for the JV trade, the gem in that one was Franklin Perez with 2 decent prospects in Rogers and Cameron. Perez got hurt in like his 3rd start and really hadn’t been back since (no fault of AA). But so far this Spring before Covid-19, he was tearing it up! So he is no Theo Epstein with the Red Sox, but he is doing decent with what he was left with when Dumbrowski left. Trade every prospect worth a blunt nickel and leave the farm barren. Now we are a top 5 farm system. And you go from 30th to top 5 in five short years? I’ll take it
Dombrowski was at the helm for the Prince trade. C’mon, man. And…. ah, forget it.
When you draft as high as Detroit has you certainly better have a strong farm system.
I’m not sure how he fleeced the Cubs… What have Candy and Paredes done?
Always had a relatively positive-to-neutral view of the guy until seeing this string of trades. I suddenly understand Tigers fans’ pain.
And yet there’s guys like the comment above who honestly believe the bull they’re typing while they’re on their knees in front of big Al.
Al is being deprived of having a full draft this year with the number 1 pick so it’s unlikely this draft can be fairly judged. His 2018-2020 drafts are probably going to be better than 2015-2017 but his trades have been horrible. No international money gained while other GM’s seem to get it done.
Would take a special level of talent to have bad drafts picking at the top over and over.
The first trade listed is wrong. He acquired K-Rod and traded Javier Betancourt plus a PTBNL who ended up being Manny Pina (a good catcher). It’s listed here as the other way around.
He is a bad GM, but his trade history isn’t terrible. No one trade was in any way awful, though none of them are exactly good either. None of the prospects he’s acquired for JDM and Verlander have panned out yet, but at least he traded his vets for prospects. The Verlander prospects might be good MLB players yet. The guys he got for JDM have been bad.
I can’t wait for the 3 page long GM trade history article on Jerry Dipoto.
His ability to evaluate talent is horrible. This guy has NO clue what he’s doing. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. But didn’t we pay a potion of Verlander contract for Houston? Com’on we got what back? A flat soda, stale peanuts and Jake Rodgers. Man Houston worked him over.
For those curious, Dave Dombrowski was the GM when they traded Eugenio Suarez (and Jonathan Crawford) to the Reds for Alfredo Simon.
I would have given him an F but he inherited a ton of crappy deals that he had to unload. I also think Paredes deal will be a gem. However, the return he got for Verlander was horrendous. JD I get they didn’t get a lot of offers but they got no one back who will be anything. He is not good by any stretch.
Avila was lauded for his experience finding Latin American players. In the JD Martinez deal the little hidden gem was suppose to be the 18 yr. old, inf. Jose King. Tigers were said to have wanted to sign him before the D-backs did. Sadly…there’s still time….but he has not progressed much.
Franklin Perez has not done a thing…and may never. With this season essentially gone. Will he ever pitch a real season of…even minor league ball?
And though it wasn’t a trade, the Zimmerman signing has to be one of the worst FA signings in MLB the last 5 yrs.
I gave Avila a “D”.
I gave him an “F.” As a fan, I’m still admittedly bitter over the DD firing by Illitch. I know DD had money to spend and never got it done with the bullpen, but when you consider the beginning of his tenure – he built nothing into something (similar to his track record in Montreal), starting one of the greatest eras in Tigers history (despite no World Series championship). Trades for Polanco and Guillen – both critical pieces. Later on – Grandy for Scherzer, Coke and A. Jackson. Kinsler for P. Fielder, as another poster mentioned. And, yes, he gutted the minors, but part of that was a product of moving guys for bigger pieces or promoting within (Cabrera, A. Sanchez, Fister (who he later traded for Robbie Ray, who hasn’t proved to be too poor a big league SP). Then, when DD was starting to tear it down, his deals for both Price and Cespedes offered reasonable to solid returns (three prospects in each, both producing contributors at the big league level, Fulmer included).
AA has done absolutely nothing, other than draft some promising pitching prospects and Riley Greene. True, JDM (who, by the way, AA endorsed, but DD ultimately signed after the Astros cut him) cannot field a lick, but the guy was (and still is) a premier hitter who merited more than the bag of balls the Tigers got. Same with NC. AA has no poker game. When you advertise to the world you need to move your big pieces, your leverage is sunk. THIS is one thing at which he IS very good.
More Prospects turn into studs because the system is good. Dave Littlefield is in charge of player development. Chris Illitch is in charge of Dave Littlefield.
Al Avila’s track record for recognizing talent is off the charts awesome. The guys he got in trades were the best he could get. Littlefield and Illitch are the problems here.
The Cessa/Green for Wilson turned out to be a fleece job
I assume you mean Cashman fleeced AA. Chad Green is valuable and Wilson looks good in a Mets uniform.
Willi Castro is a stud and Leonys was a dud. Dombrowski signed some terrible contracts got fire, and the team was directionless. Give Avila two more years, watch the young staff, and then you can fire him.
Avila inherited a shambles, but he certainly deserves a D for the lack of return he got on the stars he did trade..He seems to have a bad sense of timing when it comes to dealing players.
To be Fair, Avila inherited a complete mess and a stripped farm system.
Mike Illitch, former owner, was both a blessing and a curse for the current team
(spending big money to contend, but the “win now” order forced GMs like Dombrowski and Avila to ship out farmhands, future stars like Willy Adames, Cory Knebel, Eugenio Suarez and much more. AND, Illitch overpaid for 30’s+ stars well into their decline cycles The Tigers were running a Yankees or Dodgers sky high payroll in a mid sized market because Illitch was OK with financial losses to” just win baby”. Agents like Boros had personal relationships with former Owner Mike Illitch and his personal cell #…..would call him and make deals behind Dombrowski’s back (Fielder) players Dombrowski did not want and spent money that put him “over budget” and left pennies in the team budget for the bullpen.
The Tigers had a great run and should have won at least 1 WS Championship and would have with a decent closer and bullpen.(too much was spent on sluggers and the Cy Young loaded rotation and they went bargain basement on the bullpen)..
The Tigers missed the window to rebuild by a changing baseball structure and philosophy of MLB front offices.and by a stubborn old owner who went “all in” repeatedly, when it was time to tear-down and rebuild.
Remember, Dombrowski was fired for attempting to start the retooling/rebuild by trading stars at the deadline for young p[ays like Fulmer, Boyd, Norris, Jones etc…
Dombrowski should have traded Scherzer in his walk year when he turned down a large extension with the Tigers. Owners were still trading top 50 can’t miss prospects at that time. Tigers could have landed a nice package of 4-5 top young prospects and players for a young Cy Young Starter in his prime.
The Tigers biggest mistake was Ownership (Illitch Sr) did not allow Tigers to retool when their top talent still had youth, present and future value and decent contract statuses. The Tigers waited too long to retool/rebuild and got stuck with way too many large contracts for 30’s+ players who were clearly on the downsides of their careers.
Basically, the Tigers became “The Detroit Phillies” (the Phillies also waited too long to rebuild and could not get value in return for their declining veteran deals during their last rebuild)..AND, the most important factor was a shift in MLB GMs thinking. If the Tigers had started their rebuild in 2013 or 2014, at that time GMs were still forking over top 50 and top 100 prospects in bunches for high priced marque talent at the trade deadline. A few years later, their was a seismic shift in thinking as more and more younger, analytic minded GMs were hired throughout MLB.. These new GMs started hoarding top 50 and top 100 prospects like gold and were very reluctant to take back huge contracts on veteran players in their 30s for top 50 or top 100 can’t miss prospects…..So, to be fair, Avila got caught in that “perfect storm”……
The teams still making deals of stars for top prospects and young players were getting young stud star players back in their mid 20’s who still had reasonable contracts etc…The market for mid 30’s veteran stars with big contracts for top 50/top 100 prospects and young promising players on the major league roster had virtually dried up…
Credit Avila for taking a MLB Farm system from 30th to 5th… Credit Avila for opening a New Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic. Credit Avila for rebuilding a barren farm system for long term sustained success to match a small to mid market team like Detroit (or KC)… Credit Avila for discovering Miguel Cabrera when he was Dombrowski’s Assistant with the Marlins and for discovering and signing Astros castoff JD Martinez when no one wanted him. Credit Avila for many International “under the radar signings” like 16 year old Roberto Campos (Cuban) who could be the next Cabrera.
The Tigers return for Verlander from the Astros was decent considering the circumstances: Verlander was coming off a down year. Many teams thought Verlander was washed up including the Yankees and Dodgers who turned down deals for Verlander. Ver]ander still had a big contract.. CF Daz Cameron (son of former major league star Mike Cameron), highly rated C Jake Rogers and top Astros pitching prospect Franklin Perez was on paper a great return for Verlander…..All three of those players are likely part of the next Tigers contending team,.
So, under the circumstances, and given the very bad hand Avila was dealt with a completely gutted Tigers team loaded with fading age 30+ stars with virtually untraceable contracts and a bloated 200M payroll on a team struggling to stay out of last place on a team that the wheels had completely come off of that tied Avila’s hands in many ways, then I would rate Avila as an above average GM….
The best teams are spending behind the scenes on nutrition, physical therapy, psychiatry, etc. You are right, but not hitting the main point, they spent too much on Star players and not enough on support. That’s why the pipeline dried up.
The As, Rays, and Cardinals don’t have consistently top rated farm systems but the guys who do make it contribute because their healthy.
Re Read above…The Tigers have slashed payroll to under 100M and declining. The Tigers have redirected resources to all aspects of the farm system and player development.. The Tigers pipeline is being rebuilt to sustain long-term, continuous contention for a small to mid market team.
It is a long, painful process for their fans at the major league level. But, in 2021-2023 Tigers fans and MLB should see the Tigers return to pennant contention with a much more sustainable, long term business and baseball model…
This could use an update.