Orlando, Fla. — Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila said he didn’t expect to make any trades during the general managers’ meetings, which are taking place Monday and Tuesday at the Waldorf Astoria Resort outside of Disney World.
But, he said he’s taken calls from prospecting general managers both before he got down here and in the short time he’s been here.
“We’re going to take it slow,” Avila said. “We’re not going to rush into anything.”
Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is in the final year of his contract with the Tigers at $11 million, is the primary trade target. Shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is arbitration-eligible and could get as much as $5.6 million if it goes that far, is also drawing inquiries.
“We are open to talking to teams about anybody,” Avila said.
There was some thought that Avila would be opposed to trading both his middle infielders, especially since they lost utility man Andrew Romine off waivers to Seattle. Avila said that is not the case.
“We could trade both,” he said. “If it’s both, then we would have to go out and sign another guy. It’s different situations, different players, different positions. I don’t know which way it’s going to go.
“We might end up not trading either one of them.”
Kinsler has a 10-team no-trade clause, which he modified to include some of the teams who showed interest in him last year. Presumably, that would include the Brewers and Angels.
Avila didn’t want to discuss what he thought the market might be for Kinsler this year.
“Right now, it’s just conversations,” he said. “There are teams that have needs and they are looking at free agency and trades and we are just one team they’re looking at.”
Kinsler talked at the end of last season about not being opposed to returning in a mentoring role for the beginning stages of the Tigers rebuild. Avila had the same conversation with him.
“He said, ‘If I am back here, I’m going to play the game the right way and try to teach the young guys. If I’m not here and you trade me to a better team, that’s fine, too,’” Avila said. “In today’s world, players are going to come and play. I mean, what are you going to do?”
Avila was about as clear as a bell when he was asked about designated hitter Victor Martinez’s status for this season.
“I have no issue with Victor as far as him coming in and being ready to play,” he said. “I fully expect him to come in and be in good shape and be ready to perform. I don’t think there will be a setback.
“There is no reason to believe, there is no information that I have that says he can’t play. Completely the opposite. We’re being told he will be ready to play.”
Martinez underwent a heart ablation procedure to correct arrhythmia in October. He will be 39 in December and has one year and $18 million left on his contract. The Tigers do not have insurance on the contract and would not get financial relief if Martinez was medically unable to play.
Around the horn
The Tigers are one of six teams that exceeded the luxury tax threshold for 2017, even after they traded away the salaries of Justin Verlander and Justin Upton. Their final payroll was $190.4 million, third highest behind the Dodgers and Yankees. The Red Sox, Cubs and Giants also exceeded the threshold. It was the second year in a row the Tigers have to pay the tax, but they expect to be well under the threshold next season.