The 2021 MLB trade deadline took the industry for a wild ride.
The San Francisco Giants acquired Kris Bryant at the buzzer. The New York Mets grabbed Javier Baez. The Chicago White Sox stocked up for a World Series run by acquiring Craig Kimbrel. The Los Angeles Dodgers nabbed Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, as the Washington Nationals unloaded their best players, also sending Kyle Schwarber to the Boston Red Sox. The New York Yankees, meanwhile, added Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo to an already powerful lineup.
The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
“They’re acquiring talent after talent to offset the talent the other teams have,” Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Friday, after the 4 p.m. deadline. “This is probably the biggest number of recognizable names that were moved on one day.”
The Tigers made one move at 1:35 p.m. and stood pat the rest of the way, trading left-handed reliever Daniel Norris to the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Norris, 28, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
In return, general manager Al Avila received right-handed pitching prospect Reese Olson, who turns 22 years old Saturday. He will begin his career with the Tigers in High-A West Michigan but shouldn’t take long to advance to Double-A Erie.
“Kind of went down how I expected it to go down,” Avila said. “We were happy to make a good deal with Norris. We felt that he’s a good position going to Milwaukee, and I think we got a good prospect. We tried hard to make a couple other moves. But I think as you saw how things developed the last day, a lot of star players were moved. Kind of became a perfect storm.”
The Tigers entered the trade deadline without feeling pressure to make moves. With a 50-55 record entering Friday, Avila wasn’t anywhere close to trading his prospects for MLB superstars. The Tigers are still 11 games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox and remains unlikely to make the playoffs.
“We’re still not in that position yet,” Avila said. “We’re in a position where we don’t want to give up some of our prospects. We’re just not in that market yet, where we’re competing in that way.”
But Avila believes the Tigers will contend for the postseason soon.
“The fact that we feel good, AJ feels good, the players feel good of where we’re at today and how we’re making progress without having to tear anything apart,” Avila said. “It’s just a good feeling that we’re continuing to build up.”
The Tigers decided not to trade second baseman Jonathan Schoop, right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero and righty reliever Michael Fulmer for a return less than the team’s asking price, though that trio came up in Friday’s discussions. Not having starting pitchers Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull healthy also dinged the organization’s pursuit of possible trades for MLB-ready upgrades.
So the Tigers chose to continue building their winning culture.
“Some of these other teams were willing to move some star, accomplished players,” Avila said. “It’s a big difference from where we were sitting.”
THIS TIME THEY HAVE LEVERAGE: Inside the Tigers’ trade deadline decision
Schoop signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason and becomes a free agent after the season. The 29-year-old veteran entered Friday hitting .286 with 17 home runs, 61 RBIs, 24 walks and 86 strikeouts in 100 games this year.
Avila wouldn’t say if the Tigers keeping Schoop at the trade deadline means a contract extension could be coming.
“I don’t want to dive into that yet,” Avila said. “I’m not going to predict anything. These things don’t always turn out easily done. All I know is he’s done well for us. He likes it here, and we like him. Things have turned out to be pretty good so far, and we’ll just see how that goes.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.