The Tigers moved Friday to fill an important, if not pivotal, roster spot when they reached agreement with utility man Mike Aviles on a one-year contract. He is a right-handed hitter who can play a variety of infield spots, as well as the outfield.
Aviles turns 35 in March and has played for the Royals, Red Sox, and for the last three seasons, the Indians.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster the Tigers designated for assignment the contract of left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein.
Aviles’ career offensive numbers are unspectacular — a career batting average of .265 and OPS of .682 — but they fit the mold of a player known more for his ability to help at multiple positions and yet loom as anything but a giveaway at the plate.
The Tigers were dealing with a limited budget as well as a marketplace that has not in recent years produced an abundance of attractive super-subs who can work in the infield as well as the outfield.
Aviles ranked as one of the players the Tigers, who were looking at a tight budget in rounding out their 25-man roster for 2016, might seek as a complement to another backup player with flexible skills: Andrew Romine.
“Mike is a veteran player that we are very familiar with from his time playing with the Royals and Indians,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said. “He is a versatile player that can play multiple positions and provides the depth we were looking for to help fill out our roster.”
Aviles, who is 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, was a free agent who in 2015 was a notch below his normal offensive scores as he batted .231 with a .599 OPS.
He has 58 career home runs and 76 stolen bases. He played in 98 games for the Indians in 2015, splitting time between third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, although left field was his primary outfield station.
Avila, the Tigers general manager, has said the Tigers likely would be finished with the brunt of their offseason business once a final utility man was added.
But the market remains filled with a phalanx of attractive free agents, particularly in the outfield -- such as Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes -- which might or might not yet induce Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to decide one more piece, at least, is in the cards ahead of spring camp.
The Tigers previously acquired starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey, closer Francisco Rodriguez, relievers Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson, outfielder Cameron Maybin and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.