In honor of Al Avila being removed from his duties as general manager of the Detroit Tigers, let’s take a look back at some of his trades. These moves ultimately led to the day that allowed many Tigers fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
2017: J.D. Martinez for Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King
In three years with the Tigers, Martinez hit .300 with 99 home runs and 285 RBIs. At the time, the return for him seemed to be not too shabby. Lugo was the number two overall prospect for the Diamondbacks according to Baseball America. Alcantara was also ranked pretty highly at the time. Sergio was the 15th best prospect in the Arizona farm system according to MLB.com. Baseball America also named him “Best Infield Arm.”
Five years later, it is safe to say that Al Avila got absolutely fleeced. In the rest of that season Martinez went on to hit 29 home runs with a 1.107 OPS. He helped out Arizona’s playoff run, something the Tigers have not been a part of since 2014.
At the time, this was a trade that was supposed to make the team better equipped to win in the future. Knowing what we know now, that future was very bleak. Over 113 games in three seasons with the club, Lugo only managed to hit seven home runs and average .236 at the plate and was nothing much on the defensive side of the diamond. Now he is playing professionally in the Dominican. Alcantara put up even worse statistics with a somewhat decent glove, although not living up to his “Best Infield Arm” label. He was ultimately released and has been an MLB journeyman since. Jose King is still in High-A. To put it lightly, this trade was depressing.
2017: Justin Verlander for Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers
Although the trade was necessary at the time, as we were in what was Al Avila’s version of a “rebuild”. It was the same situation with the Martinez deal. Adding in the fact that Verlander’s contract was not the easiest to move, due to the fact that he was getting older and dealing with injury issues. Moving the backbone of a team that had so many great seasons with him as your Ace, for essentially nothing, is downright atrocious.
Since then, Verlander has posted two top-three Cy Young finishes along with career bests in ERA, WHIP etc. On the other hand, Perez, Cameron and Rogers, who were all top 11 Astros prospects at the time, have not amounted to anything close to what Verlander has in the League. Perez is playing with the Rookie Affiliate of the Tigers. Cameron has been in and out of the league with the team for the past couple of seasons with no consistent future in sight. Rogers showed that he could be a serviceable backup catcher until he had to receive Tommy John surgery around this time last year. All in all, this trade was one of, if not, Avila’s biggest miss as GM.
2022: Michael Fulmer for Sawyer Gibson-Long
This trade was the nail in the coffin for Al Avila’s job. After Chris Illitch foolishly allowed Al Avila to work another trade deadline he went on to trade a former rookie of the year. After two major surgeries in 2017 and 2018 showed promise in one of the MLB’s best bullpens over the past two years. A 24 year old Double-A bullpen arm who has posted an above seven ERA in eight games with Witchita. Although Fulmer’s contract was expiring and it did not seem like he had much value. Why trade a solid piece of one of your strongest units for essentially nothing? This trade will not have as big of an impact as the Martinez and Verlander trades. But, it did send everyone’s frustration with his incompetency’s over the top, ultimately leading to his termination.
Al Avila’s time with the Tigers will leave in infamy to anyone who is familiar with the team. Anyone associated with the team currently can only hope that they hire the guy who can lead them back to their glory days.