DETROIT -- The injury-plagued Tigers, with three regulars on the disabled list and Miguel Cabrera day to day with a left biceps strain, swung a trade on Tuesday for reinforcements, acquiring shortstop Erick Aybar from the Braves for utilityman Mike Aviles and catching prospect Kade Scivicque.
The deal gives the Tigers a veteran option at short with Jose Iglesias on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. But with Iglesias potentially back in two weeks, general manager Al Avila said the deal was as much or more about depth on the bench.
"The main reason for this move, really, is to upgrade our utility position," Avila said. "We feel that Aybar could give us a little bit more offense from that utility position. He's a switch-hitter. He can play third, he can play short, he can play second. Really, if we needed to in a pinch, we can also throw him in the outfield. But right now, he gives us an experienced, veteran type player that we feel will give us a little bit better offense than, say, Aviles at this point -- and the same versatility, really."
Aybar has been a primary shortstop since 2008, spending a lengthy tenure with the Angels before joining the Braves in the offseason in the Andrelton Simmons trade. The 32-year-old former All-Star batted .242 (81-for-335) with a .607 OPS in 97 games with the Braves, including 88 starts at shortstop. Since the All-Star break, however, Aybar is batting .313 (31-for-99) with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBIs.
Aybar is a .274 hitter with a .688 OPS over his 11-year Major League career.
The Tigers have had bench versatility all season with utility players in Aviles and Andrew Romine. However, Avila saw Aybar's track record as a step up, particularly at shortstop.
"He did not have a very good start to the season, going into the All-Star break," Avila said. "As of late, the last month or so, he's been hitting the ball very well. He's picked it up.
"And believe me, we have looked and looked and looked and tried to upgrade in little areas, because our lineup is set, barring injuries of course. In essence, what we've been trying to do is upgrade in subtle areas, the utility area, things like that. Now I guess with all the injuries, we felt that we really needed to move it along and do something. Aybar, because he's been hitting the ball lately and looks healthy, we felt that this was a good time to do it."
"This is kind of the sum of everything that's happened to us," Avila said. "We felt we needed that guy off the bench, we needed that player in a utility role -- whether it be at shortstop or third or anywhere -- that they can give us a little bit more offense."
The Tigers signed Aviles as a free agent last December with an outfield role in mind before the Justin Upton signing marginalized Aviles' role, overlapping him at many spots with Romine. While the 35-year-old Aviles became a positive presence in the clubhouse, the veteran struggled for at-bats, batting .210 (35-for-167) with six RBIs in 68 games in the outfield, second, third and short.
Scivicque, a fourth-round pick in last year's Draft, was the Tigers' 20th-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com. The 23-year-old former LSU standout enjoyed a strong role at Class A West Michigan last summer before progressing to Class A Advanced Lakeland, where he batted .282 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in the Florida State League.
"Obviously, we would like not to trade him," Avila said. "Catching is at a premium, but we felt that in this deal, it was a fair ask. We like Kade and he's actually done a very good job, but at the end of the day, you have to make a decision. We felt that it was fair."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.