Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t appear to be on the trade block this winter, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. While GM Al Avila didn’t definitively state that K-Rod won’t be moved this winter, he certainly implied to Fenech that the team isn’t seeking out trade partners for Rodriguez, whose $6MM club option was picked up following the season. However, Avila did state that if things go south for the Tigers in 2017, K-Rod would be a logical trade chip. “If things were right, if the timing was right, would he be a guy we’d look to trade?” the GM asked rhetorically. “Yeah. A veteran guy in the last year of his contract, there might be a good situation down the road.” Avila has publicly declared a desire to shed some payroll and work toward a younger roster, but for the time being it seems likelier that K-Rod opens the year in Detroit than elsewhere.
A few more items from the AL Central…
- The Tigers announced today that former Major League catcher Gerald Laird has been hired as the manager of the team’s Class-A affiliate in Connecticut. Laird, 37, hasn’t logged significant Major League action since the 2014 season, which he spent with the Braves. The former Tiger spent parts of 13 seasons in the Majors beginning in 2003, though, batting a collective .243/.305/.353 with the Rangers, Tigers, Cardinals, Braves and Diamondbacks. He won a World Series ring with St. Louis in 2011 and now looks to be embarking on the next level of his career in baseball. There’s been no formal word that he’s retired, though it seems clear that for the time being, he’s focused on other areas.
- Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine sat down with Fangraphs’ David Laurila at last week’s Winter Meetings to discuss a number of topics, including player acquisition, building out the analytics/baseball operations staff, the coaching staff and lineup construction (though the latter of that group will firmly remain manager Paul Molitor’s duty, the two stressed). While the new duo will bring a more modern and statistical approach to the Minnesota front office, Levine emphasized to Laurila that roster decisions aren’t going to be purely “formulaic,” and both execs spoke about the importance of looking beyond statistical evidence when making decisions. Falvey and Levine also spoke highly of the work that Twins director of baseball research Jack Goin has done in the analytics department prior to their arrival and said they plan on adding to that impressive base. “When you work for another team, you really don’t know what’s under the hood of another team when it comes to systems,” said Falvey. “It felt like there’s a good framework in place, in a system where we could access information. … Right now it’s a good framework to build off of.”
- Royals GM Dayton Moore suggested at today’s press conference to introduce Jorge Soler that the talks with the Cubs that sent the outfielder to Kansas City were first explored quite awhile ago, as the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd writes. “We knew that this deal was a potential fit for us a couple of months ago,” said Moore. “So it gave us plenty of time to do all the background (checks).” Per Dodd, Moore likened the deal somewhat to the 2010 trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers in exchange for a package of talent headlined by Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. While the four-for-one nature of that trade doesn’t line up with last week’s one-for-one swap of Soler and Wade Davis, Moore noted that the goal was the same: adding controllable, MLB-ready talent that still has room to grow.