Jack Morris can’t hold back the flood of emotions at his Hall of Fame introduction press conference. Chris McCosky, Detroit News
Orlando, Fla. — Tigers general manager Al Avila was asked Monday if he thought he would be able to work a trade for second baseman Ian Kinsler during the Winter Meetings, which commenced in earnest Monday.
“I think we will, yes,” he said.
Manager Ron Gardenhire, sitting to Avila’s right, dropped his head and said, “You don’t have to though.”
Well, as much as Gardenhire would love to go into his first season with the Tigers with Kinsler’s Gold-Glove presence and veteran leadership in place, he knows that’s not likely to happen.
“We talked to a few clubs when we got here and we’ve fielded a few calls last night and today,” Avila said. “But it’s nothing that’s moving anywhere right now.”
According to Avila, no new teams have entered the discussions. It’s still the same four or five teams who have stayed in the loop for Kinsler — the Mets, Angels, Brewers and Blue Jays are believed to be among those teams.
“In our situation right now, it behooves us to do it,” Avila said. “It behooves us to move Kinsler — a veteran player for a prospect. It would give us a chance to play Dixon Machado on a more regular basis, for one thing.”
It would also trim $11 million off the payroll and add a presumably upper-level prospect to the system.
An indication that Avila thinks a deal could be done soon: He had assistant general manager David Chadd reach out to Kinsler’s agent.
“David reached out to say that we’ve had conversations and something could happen,” Avila said. “But right now there is nothing to grasp onto.”
The second base market is a bit clogged, too, which could be impacting the timing of any deal. Starlin Castro, just traded to the Marlins from the Yankees, could be on the trade block, along with Josh Harrison, Cesar Hernandez, Brian Dozier and Jason Kipnis.
What about Fulmer?
Avila said he is not actively seeking trade partners for right-hander Michael Fulmer.
“It’s not really our desire to trade him at this point,” he said. “It’s just something where you explore all your avenues, just in case. We are not trying to trade him, but if there are teams that are interested, then, OK. But we’re not trying to trade him.”
He said he has gotten a couple of calls asking about Fulmer, he called them “mild inquiries,” that weren’t pursued.
“There are no offers on the table,” he said. “But we do know there are some teams that have a more desirable farm system who could make it happen if they were aggressive. But to be clear, we haven’t come close to those kinds of conversations.”
Those types of conversations are more likely to occur before the trade deadline.
What about Castellanos?
Interesting. Before the end of last season, Avila made a pitch to right fielder Nick Castellanos’ agent about signing him to a contract extension.
“Don’t overplay that,” Avila said. “It’s just that all options are open.”
Castellanos is still arbitration-eligible for two more years. Avila said the extension offer was for longer than those two years. They made a similar offer to J.D. Martinez before eventually signing him to a two-year deal prior to the 2016 season.
Martinez didn’t take the longer extension and so far, Castellanos’ camp hasn’t jumped at it.
“Based on the fact we’ve had no conversation since the end of the year, the interest isn’t really there,” Avila said.
Like with Fulmer, Avila will listen to trade offers on Castellanos, though none have come.
Avila did say, though, that Castellanos is slated to open the season as the club’s starting right fielder.
“I talked to him before Thanksgiving,” Avila said. “He was starting to work on his outfield play and he asked if he should also take ground balls at third base. I said, ‘Absolutely. The more versatility you bring the better for you, and the better for the organization.’ ”
Around the horn
The Tigers have cleared a spot on their 40-man roster to make room for the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. They have the first pick. Right-handed pitcher Victor Alcantara, who was acquired from the Angels for Cameron Maybin, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.
… Avila said the Tigers scouts attended the showcase events for the Braves prospects who were declared free agents by the league. They came away with mixed reviews. “The workout they had, not all of them showed up and not all were ready to be showcased,” Avila said. “You had to go on past history and what happened last season, performance-wise.”