Avila: 'Keep this club together moving forward'

Avila: 'Keep this club together moving forward'

DETROIT -- Give this to Tigers general manager Al Avila: He doesn't aim to deceive.

When Avila and his front office embarked on an offseason plan to explore trades for some of their veterans, he not only made his intentions public to the media, he also made his intentions clear to the players.

Hot Stove tracker

J.D. Martinez was one of those players. And as his mother peppered him with trade rumors sending him anywhere from New York to Philadelphia to San Francisco, he appreciated the openness.

"He pretty much told me, 'You're going to see your name a lot being out there, but I just want you to know that it's not official unless it comes from me. So don't freak out, don't think anything unless I call you,'" Martinez said. "He explained to me the whole situation like he explained to you guys. He told me first, just so I understood what was going on and why it was going on, and I respect that."

That philosophy is a reflection of the general manager himself.

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"I just don't believe in hiding things," Avila said on Thursday as the Tigers' Winter Caravan embarked. "I believe in establishing a philosophy, establishing a plan. I think we all understand when you establish a plan, it doesn't always come to fruition from A to Z. I don't think that happens in any industry, and probably even less in sports.

"But if you take people through the process, if you are talking to them on a regular basis about how things are and what's going on, I think people understand when things work out or don't work out, when good decisions are made or sometimes when decisions that are made don't work out so well. As long as you keep that communication going and people see what you're trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish, I think people understand, and they back you better. That's my whole way of looking at it."

And as Avila looks at the offseason from the back end, he openly admits it didn't unfold like the team planned. But he also cautioned that it didn't catch the Tigers by surprise.

"When the season ended, and before we got into the Hot Stove, I did mention that there may be a possibility that frankly we don't do anything," Avila said. "One, obviously, the Collective Bargaining Agreement [negotiations] was going to delay things, and [with] the tougher [luxury tax] sanctions now, clubs are a little more reluctant to take on more money."

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The second factor Avila mentioned was a surplus of quality hitters on the free-agent and trade markets, lowering the Tigers' leverage.

"Thirdly," Avila said, "we set out to do what was probably the most difficult to do, which was where you want to pick up guys that are more advanced, closer to the big leagues, guys you can plug in. It's very hard to trade an everyday player and not receive a guy that you can plug into that position or a position of need -- whether it be right away, for this season or in the very short future.

"Those kinds of trades were not available at this point, so that also helped create the situation where we felt we should wait a little longer. Because we just weren't comfortable with trading good, productive Major League players for prospects that were further away and maybe a little more chance on."

Those deals haven't come about. The offseason isn't over yet, but at this point, Avila said the plan is to keep the team together until midseason, when the Tigers review where they stand heading into the July non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"It behooves us to keep this club together moving forward, keep it as good as we can to be competitive," Avila said. "We have a chance to win. We gave it a shot, now let's move forward and see what this season brings us, and we'll make adjustments as we go."

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.