Team continues to explore market for star second baseman
By Mark Bowman and Jason Beck
MLB.com |@beckjason |
The Tigers' front office arrived at Major League Baseball's General Manager Meetings ready to continue the trade talks that reshaped the roster over the summer. At this point, however, general manager Al Avila said they're still in discussion mode.
As expected, a good portion of that talk revolved around second baseman Ian Kinsler.
"I had several conversations before coming here [regarding Kinsler]. Before leaving here, I'll probably have a few more," Avila told reporters Monday at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Orlando, Fla. "I don't expect anything to get done here. We'll see how it carries over into the Winter Meetings [next month]. Every team has a different situation, so depending on how other teams are going to react, then we'll react."
That's usually how these meetings work, laying the foundation for discussions to continue into the larger setting of the Winter Meetings. Though the Tigers have jumped the market and swung deals at the GM Meetings in past years, they're taking a patient approach.
Avila did not want to get into the particulars of the market, but considering the Tigers have discussed trades involving Kinsler since last offseason, they know the market and the potential destinations well. Teams linked to interest in Kinsler last summer, including the Angels and Brewers, still have openings at second base.
Meanwhile, two factors have changed with the Tigers. First, the August trades of Justin Upton and Justin Verlander have put the team in full rebuilding mode. Second, the Tigers lost a middle infielder last week when the Mariners claimed utilityman Andrew Romine off waivers.
Romine's situation, Avila said, was independent of Kinsler's status, as well as shortstop Jose Iglesias.
"We just made a decision [to take Romine off the roster]," Avila said. "At this point, you take the risk of somebody claiming him, but we're not really looking at it that way. We basically wanted to clear the roster spot. We're going a little bit younger, a little less expensive."
Romine is eligible for arbitration, as is Iglesias. Kinsler is guaranteed at $11 million next season after the option year in his contract vested late last season. The Tigers likely would've picked up Kinsler's option anyway and explored a trade.
Though a deal appears likely, either this offseason or next summer, Avila said they don't have to make a deal now, thanks to the versatility of young infielder Dixon Machado.
"Right now, if we didn't do anything at all, and you had Kinsler at second and Iglesias at short, you still have Machado coming in and can basically play everywhere in the infield," Avila said. "If there's a trade for Kinsler, you can have Machado play second. If there's a trade for Iglesias, you can have Machado play short. In that case, you still [would] have to go out there and get a younger, less expensive utility player."
Mark Bowman has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001.