Tigers won't move vets just to help payroll

GM Avila: Club engaged in talks, but nothing has come to fruition

Tigers won't move vets just to help payroll

DETROIT -- The Tigers aren't going to trade veteran players just to shed salary, general manager Al Avila re-emphasized Tuesday. And if they can't find the return they want, they're poised to enter 2017 with a team that looks a lot like it did in '16.

Avila, speaking with MLB Network's Christopher Russo on his "High Heat" afternoon program Tuesday, said the market never materialized for the kind of trade that would push the Tigers toward the younger, more efficient roster Avila's looking to build over the next few years.

"If we would've been able to do a good baseball trade," it would've happened, Avila told Russo, "meaning that if you're going to want one of our everyday players, whether it be a right fielder or a left fielder or one or our infielders or one of our pitchers, we're going to want in return a solid prospect combination that I can plug in to play in a position at the Major League level, or somebody that's close enough that I can plug in in the near future. If that's not available, then we're not going to go out there and trade for A-ball fringe type of guys because we're not there yet.

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"I can't trade away two or three players without having the return to be able to plug in, because then I'm going to cripple the organization. So if it's not there then, well, you can't make that trade."

That trade, Avila said, hasn't come close.

"I can say that I had many conversations throughout the winter," Avila said, "but nothing really went to the point where I felt that we were going to make a trade. I thought there was going to be opportunity. That never really developed to that point where I was close to calling ownership and say, 'I've got this, is it OK to do it?'"

The Tigers' only trade this offseason came at the beginning, when they traded Cameron Maybin and his $9 million contract option to the Angels for Minor League reliever Victor Alcantara. That deal, and the salary involved, raised expectations that the Tigers would be slashing salaries to bring payroll under the luxury tax threshold.

So far, though, payroll has remained level, except for the $2 million contract Alex Avila signed to return to Detroit as catcher James McCann's backup. Any expectation that the Tigers were going to make poor deals out of financial necessity, Avila indicated, was mistaken.

"Quite frankly, ownership has not told me to dump salary," Detroit's GM said. "Basically they asked me: If you can make a good baseball trade, that's great. Because you know what? The young guy will be more athletic, he'll be faster, he'll be more cost-efficient and give us a better future."

Avila was expected to talk more about the Tigers' offseason Wednesday. He was scheduled to appear on the Tiger Talk Hot Stove radio show at 7 p.m. ET on tigers.com and on 97.1 FM in Detroit. Tigers radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Dickerson co-hosts the show with Pat Caputo.

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.