Detroit — To acquire closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers, the Tigers had to part with one of their top second base prospects, Javier Betancourt.
On Wednesday, general manager Al Avila took a step to fill that void, trading corner infielder Jefry Marte to the Angels for 22-year-old Kody Eaves.
“I am not saying he is Betancourt,” Avila said after speaking to the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. “But you get a guy back that makes up for that loss. I am not comparing him, but at least we got a guy back for that loss.”
Eaves, who spent last season in Single A, was ranked as the 22nd-best prospect in the Angels system. He hit .248, scoring 70 runs with 17 doubles, 11 triples, 11 home runs and 71 RBIs.
“Right now he’s a second baseman, but he can play second, shortstop, third base and left field,” Avila said. “He hits left-handed, he can run a little bit, he has a good arm and a little pop in his bat.”
Avila said the plan is for Eaves to begin the season at Double A Erie.
The Tigers last week designated Marte for assignment to make room for Justin Upton. He played in 33 games with the Tigers last season, hitting .213 with four home runs and 11 RBI.
With the acquisition of veteran Mike Aviles, plus with third base prospects JaCoby Jones and Dominic Ficociello both invited to spring training, Marte was the odd man out.
The Tigers have seen a 33 percent increase in attendance over the last 10 seasons, according to a survey done by 24/7 Wall Street.
The Tigers have an average home attendance of 33,654 over that span. They also have made two trips to the World Series and won four AL Central Division titles in that span. The played to 81.6 pecent of capacity in Comerica Park.
The Tigers had the seventh-largest increase in average attendance of any team in the four major sports, according to the 24/7 survey.
The World Series champion Royals ranked first in the survey, followed by the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. The NHL’s Blackhawks and Penguins were next, followed by the Blue Jays and Pirates.