Fast forward a year, and the Tigers are in a familiar spot. Ausmus said on Thursday he'd be surprised if his current boss, GM Al Avila, sold off players at the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline. But regardless, he'd still rather not be involved too heavily in the discussions.
"I think it'll be similar," Ausmus said.
The Tigers are in a similar spot in the standings, a few games back of an American League Wild Card spot and a greater distance back in the AL Central. But they're a few games over .500 this time around, with a bit more complete, healthier team, in Ausmus' eyes.
"Last year, we had David Price, but also Miguel [Cabrera] was hurt at this time, Victor [Martinez] was injured all year really," he said. "But it wasn't until just about this week last year that [Justin] Verlander kind of really turned a corner. And we didn't really know that the corner was being turned until a few starts after that. So I think we've got a couple things better positioned than we did a year ago, despite the fact that we don't have David Price. We have [Jordan] Zimmermann coming back, assuming he's healthy. It's similar, but I feel like it's a slightly better position now, from a health standpoint for sure."
The crux of the Tigers' problem last year, Ausmus said, was starting pitching. They needed one more starter, and they didn't have the pieces to get one. Ausmus, at least, feels better about his rotation depth this time around, thanks in no small part to the prospects they acquired in those Deadline deals last year.
"I think we look at our starting pitching a little differently this year, in the sense that [Michael] Fulmer came on the scene," Ausmus said. "So now, if you get Zimmermann back healthy in the next 10 days, you have Verlander, Fulmer, Zimmermann. That's three pretty good guys at the top. And then we have the other guys, [Matt] Boyd, [Anibal] Sanchez, [Mike] Pelfrey, [Daniel] Norris. If we can piece together something with the last two slots, you feel like you've got a chance."
As for the starting-pitching trade market, Ausmus said, "There's some guys out there, but I think there's so many teams looking for starting pitching, the price goes up. Most of them are small-market teams with guys that are going into arbitration."