Al Avila Destroyed The Detroit Tigers
Al Avila is the Detroit Tigers’ vice president of baseball operations and general manager. He was promoted to these roles after the Tigers fired Dave Dombrowski in 2015. Since, Avila has assembled some of the worst teams of the decade. After seven long years, he needs to be let go.
Before we dive into how Avila destroyed the Tigers, I want to make it clear that I do not disagree with the idea of rebuilding. With that being said, Avila was not the guy to lead the rebuild. Now, let’s take a look at exactly how Avila led Detroit down the wrong path.
I am willing to imagine that every time Avila calls another team, there is a group celebration before they pick up the phone. Almost every time he made a trade, he came out on the wrong end. Even worse, he could not hit on any of the major moves he made.
Justin Verlander to Houston
The biggest mistake that Avila made was the Justin Verlander trade in 2017. I don’t hate that they traded Verlander, but you have to get some value in return. What did the Tigers get? Pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron, and catcher Jake Rodgers. At the time, the trio was ranked third, ninth, and eleventh amongst Astros prospects. The crown jewel of the deal, Perez, has been constantly injured and was even released at one point. Throughout his time in the Tigers’ organization, he has yet to make it to AA. Meanwhile, Cameron and Rodgers have made it to Detroit, but they have not produced enough to make the Verlander deal worth it. What is even worse is that the Astros had Kyle Tucker, Teoscar Hernandez, Yordan Alvarez, and others in their farm system. Needless to say, Avila could have done far better in this one.
JD Martinez To Arizona
The JD Martinez trade was yet another mishap. In this deal, the Tigers received shortstop Dawel Lugo, second basemen Sergio Alcantara, and shortstop Jose King. The only prospect to make it to the big league out of this group was Lugo, who batted .236 with an OPS+ of 65. In fairness to Avila, the Diamondbacks did not have a good farm system at the time. Still, I have a hard time believing another team did not have more to offer.
The Rest Of The Pack
I am not going to go in-depth on every trade that Avila made over the last seven years. To summarize some other moves, he traded Eugenio Suarez for Alfredo Simon. He also traded away Nick Castellanos, Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, and Michael Fires while getting prospects that did not amount to much. Ironically, the best trade he made was when he traded his son, Alex Avila, and Justin Wilson to the Cubs for Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes.
If those trades are not bad enough, he has not done well on the free agent market either. Avila made two splashes in free agency last offseason. He inked Javier Baez to a 6-year, $140 million deal and Eduardo Rodriguez to a 5-year, $77 million deal. Neither has worked out so far. Rodriguez has a 4.38 ERA with an 89 ERA+. If that is not bad enough, he has stepped away from the team. Meanwhile, Baez is batting .224 with an OPS+ 85.
It may be a little early to judge these deals. However, if the Tigers get several more years of this level of production, Avila will have them behind the eight-ball heading into the next stage of the rebuild.
The future for the Tigers is simple. Fire Al Avila and move forward from there. The ship is sinking, but it is salvageable. After all, the Tigers have done well in the draft. I do not know whether to credit that to Avila or the scouting staff. Regardless, the young core of Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, and others has potential. Avila has had seven years to prove he is a competent GM, and he has yet to do so. It is time to move on.
*All stats via baseball reference*