Detroit Tigers: Standing Pat at Trading Deadline is Right Move

Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers vice president Al Avila prior to game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers vice president Al Avila prior to game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

While not sexy, the Detroit Tigers tentative plan to stand pat at the upcoming MLB Trading Deadline is probably the best plan for the franchise and this year’s team.

There was no joy in Tigerville on Saturday afternoon when Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila described the team’s strategy for the upcoming trading deadline as, well, pretty much a bunch of nothing.

The organization feels as if they will be receiving several “major acquisitions” once Jordan Zimmermann, Daniel Norris, and J.D. Martinez are healthy and ready to contribute in the next couple of weeks.

"“Right now, I would say [standing pat] is the most realistic option, sitting here today, which is probably what’s best for the team this year and moving forward in the future. It might not be the sexiest thing, but it is what it is. Those are going to be our major acquisitions. There’s nobody [on the market] better than Jordan Zimmermann if he comes back healthy.” – Al Avila, July 23, 2016"

In his first full season as the head man of the Tigers, Avila outlined financials as another reason for doing nothing, stating that the team has one of the highest payrolls in baseball, one that was put together in the offseason to contend. He also seems unwilling to part with several prospects in a barren farm system.

While not the most “sexy” decision, it’s probably the right one. It’s appealing to think the Tigers could reload in a seller’s market and get a similar, or better, haul to what they reeled in last year with the additions of Michael Fulmer, JaCoby Jones, and others to match the few prospects already in the system, such as Joe Jimenez. It seems since they are within striking distance of a playoff spot they almost certainly won’t be selling.

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Selling for a second straight year, with a club that is within a five or six-game winning streak of getting to, or near, the top of the AL Central or Wild-Card race, would be a devastating moral hit for current players, would cause attendance to drop, and also might cause potential free agents to pause before agreeing to a deal with the Tigers in the future. Are they the Tigers of old? Unwilling to be a player on the free agent market, content to lose 100 games a year?

Certainly, if they were 10 games under, in fourth or fifth place, than selling would be warranted, but that is not the case. This team has a mathematical shot at getting to the postseason, and other teams over the years have tackled higher odds to achieve success.

As much as the Tigers are not in position to sell, they’re also not in the position to buy. They have gone 27-21 since June 1, which is laudable since they’ve had just two reliable/healthy starting pitchers during that time (even before Zimmermann was out, he wasn’t helping much and clearly hurting). A closer look shows that they have played a lot of sub-.500 teams during that stretch, something that will change quickly.

Heading into Monday’s game, the Tigers are an impressive 26-13 against teams below .500, and a pitiful 25-35 against fellow winning teams. Starting with the current series in Boston (including Monday), they play 22 out of the next 25 games against teams with winning records.

This tough road includes two series with the Red Sox, surging Astros, defending NL champ Mets, Mariners, Rangers, and Royals before getting a break in late August with games against the Twins, Angels, and White Sox.

The Tigers have shown, at least to this point, that they cannot compete with the AL elite, and it might be too late to show otherwise before the August 1 deadline. The problems the team have (no starting pitching depth, still shaky bullpen, a hit-or-miss lineup anchored by struggling Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez) are too numerous to be addressed with a flashy (and costly) acquisition of a starting pitcher.

Earlier on, we mentioned the 100-loss concern. If the Tigers continually deplete their farm system to get rentals for a team that doesn’t really have the makeup to win a World Series, those 100 losses could be coming sooner than most of us realize.

Avila has experienced an uneven start to his GM tenure, but one thing he seems generally committed to is reversing the decimation of the franchise’s future, something his predecessor was unconcerned with.

Of course, as with many GM’s and Dave Dombrowksi, whom Avila spent a career being mentored by, this could be a giant smoke screen. After all, Avila shut the door on any big named free agents late last offseason until reversing course and signing Justin Upton just weeks before Spring Training.

Next: Tigers Fielding Trade Calls on Justin Wilson

So you never know, but the best course of action is to do nothing. Even if doing nothing is spectacularly boring.