Come here, buddy. Have I got a deal for you?
My name is Al. Al Avila. I’m the general manager of the Detroit Tigers, and I’ll be your lead salesman today.
Don’t be shy. Come on in.
I want you to know that everything is for sale. Well, almost everything. Not those young guys in the corner, but darn near everybody else.
As long as it makes sense.
We accept Visa, MasterCard and even Kroger gas points, if you got ’em. But more than anything, we want players, a whole bunch of ’em. We need a little bit of everything. We want some good, young, power arms. We want some young outfielders who can hit and run. We have to get better on the bases. Putting a beer-league softball team out there, loaded with right-handed sluggers, just hasn’t gotten it done. We could use plenty of help in the bullpen. We need some starting pitchers because, well, we just don’t have much depth in the organization.
Some of the issues are on me. In my first year, I wasn’t very good at free agency. I can admit that.
This is a new era of Tigers baseball. We are in the middle of a retool, or a reboot, or whatever you want to call it. It’s like trying to get a freighter to turn around on a dime.
That’s not easy to admit. For years, we kept handing out huge contracts and trading young prospects, trying to get over the hump, trying to get Mr. I that championship, and we just couldn’t do it. We didn’t win the World Series. And now, it’s time to chart a new course.
Just two years ago, we traded second baseman Devon Travis to Toronto for Anthony Gose, trying to plug a hole in centerfield. What a mistake. We just can’t think that way anymore. We have to hold onto our young prospects, and we need more of ’em.
The only way to get ’em, in a hurry, is through trades.
Let me take you over here to our vintage rack. I’ve got something special for you.
His name is Justin Verlander.
J.V. has been a great Tiger, and we don’t want to get rid of him. We have all the respect in the world for Verlander and owe him so much for what he has given to this organization, but everything has changed. We can’t afford him, not in this new reality. Not under this new plan.
Our payroll is more bloated than a beached whale, and we have to cut costs. Last year, we spent north of $210 million when you add in all the benefits, and we got zilch for it. Our attendance went down and we had to pay a luxury tax.
The truth is, we won’t be as good next season because we can’t add through free agency and we have decided to go into sell mode. A rebuild. And J.V. deserves to be on a winner.
What’s it going to cost you? Oh, my friend, let’s not talk cost, let’s talk opportunity. This is your opportunity to get a bulldog, a fierce competitor and a winner. Of course, well, we will want your top prospects. All of ’em.
And we won’t send him to just anybody. J.V. could veto a trade. So it’s got to be some place special.
What’s that you say? You want an outfielder?
Well, then, take a look at J.D. Martinez. He’s a great human being. A great hitter. The problem is, we have him for only one more year. We aren’t going to offer him a long-term contract. Heck no. That would cost a mint. We are trying to get younger, faster, better defensively and cheaper — and Martinez is none of those things.
Again, that’s not knocking J.D. He’s a great man and a tremendous baseball player. But he just doesn’t fit with our new philosophy.
Go ahead. Browse a little bit. We’d be willing to hear offers for everybody: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez. Nobody is sacred. Nothing is untouchable, for the right deal. Yes, some have no-trade situations, but that can be worked out.
Take a look at Justin Upton. Do you know he hit .292 over the last 27 games last season, with 13 home runs? Think about that. Wouldn’t he look good in your lineup?
This isn’t easy for us to sell these guys. But we just want you to know, we are ready to make a deal.
Heck yes, there is a lot of pressure on me. This is like trying to solve a huge Rubik’s Cube. One wrong move could mess up everything and set this organization back for years.
But if I make the right twist or two, or three, or four, we just might have something that lasts.
(2016 © Detroit Free Press)