GM Avila: ‘We’re not rebuilding anymore’

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT – The Tigers’ days of trading away veteran players for prospects who are several years away potentially are over, general manager Al Avila suggested Tuesday.

Yes, the Tigers could end up trading a veteran or two for younger players. But if they make a trade, they’ll be looking for a return that makes the team better sooner rather than later.

“Right now, we have no pressure at all to make any trades,” Avila said. “We don’t have the type of high-salary, aging player that we need to trade to rebuild, per se. We’re on the upswing. We’re actually hoping to acquire players at some point where and when it makes sense.

“We like our young players. We’re trying to bring in more talented players. And really, that’s where we’re at right now. We’re trying to get better. We’re not rebuilding anymore. We’re building.”

The Tigers have been trimming their payroll for the last few years to this point, where Miguel Cabrera is the only player under contract long term. The only other player on a guaranteed contract beyond this year is outfielder Robbie Grossman, who signed a two-year contract as a free agent last winter.

Moreover, with catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Nomar Mazara having been released in recent weeks, the Tigers have a short list of veteran players on track for free agency this winter, led by second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

Asked if Schoop is expected to draw the most interest, Avila cautioned that.

“You can imagine how many good players are out there right now,” Avila said. “I think there’s more guys out there right now than teams really looking at this point. We’ll see how that develops between now and the Deadline.”

Avila praised the role Schoop has played in helping carry the Tigers out of their tough start this season and helping young players develop. He was a serious All-Star consideration earlier this month. But he’s also a free agent at season’s end who hired Scott Boras as his agent after signing one-year contracts with the Tigers the last two offseasons.

“I wouldn’t get into that with any of you guys at this point,” Avila said when asked about any consideration of a contract extension with Schoop. “But that’s a good question.”

Beyond that are a slew of young players the Tigers are still trying to evaluate and judge whether they’re part of the long-term plan in Detroit. Some players in that group could be available, but won’t be giveaways.

Not surprising, then, that trade discussions haven’t been substantial yet.

“I can’t say there’s traffic on the phone,” Avila said. “Right now, it’s just kind of the same as any other year. I’ve actually had a lot of preliminary talks over the last month with more than half the clubs, but they’re all preliminary, guys just checking in back and forth. I can’t really say there’s anything imminent happening at this point.”

That will likely change closer to the July 30 Trade Deadline. But it still might not result in a deal.

“I think there’s more speculation during the Deadline,” Avila said. “I think there’s more people kind of fantasizing about what could be or what might happen and pretending different scenarios that quite frankly sometimes are not realistic. But at the same time, as an organization, you have to be open-minded to anything that could be possible.”

Goodrum, Baddoo, Krol bring water to Flint

For the third time in four years, Tigers infielder Niko Goodrum partnered with the United Way of Genesee County, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Detroit Tigers Foundation to donate bottled water to the residents of Flint. He made the trip north to the city Tuesday morning to help distribute 275 cases of water at Asbury United Methodist Church, loading water into the trunks and back seats of vehicles in line.

Teammates Akil Baddoo and Ian Krol joined Goodrum on the trip to help out. Goodrum recently started his own foundation, doGOODthings, for his community endeavors.

Tigers reach deals with two more Draft picks

The Tigers agreed to terms on contracts with fifth-round Draft pick Tanner Kohlhepp and eighth-round selection Jordan Marks, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Kohlhepp, a versatile right-handed reliever from Notre Dame, agreed to a $400,000 bonus, slightly below the slot value of $414,000. Marks, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina Upstate, agreed to terms for $150,000, below the slot value of $190,100.

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