Tigers may stand pat at trade deadline

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
The emergence of rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer has general manager Al Avila feeling bullish about the Tigers' rotation.

Chicago — The trade deadline is still a month and a half away, so any and all talk about what the Tigers may or may not do is grossly premature.

But general manager Al Avila made it clear that, as things stand today, he’s not expecting the Tigers to be major players — buying or selling — on the trade market.

“This is the team we are counting on to win,” he said before the game Wednesday. “If we have to make a minor move here or there, we will look into it at that point.”

But for the most part, he said, he believes the club is set.

“First of all, we have a huge payroll, one of the biggest in baseball,” he said. “And we have a team that is set position by position. We aren’t going to replace any of those guys, position player-wise.”

As for the pitching, he said he thought with Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann and Michael Fulmer, the nucleus of the starting rotation was solid.

“And we have options for the fourth and fifth spots, internal options,” he said. “Not every team has perfect Nos. 4 and 5 starters. Teams that compete for the playoffs usually have three good starters, a fourth one that’s OK and then the fifth spot is in and out.

“I think we have enough pitching to make it work.”

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Presently Mike Pelfrey, who started against the White Sox Wednesday, and rookie Matt Boyd are the fourth and fifth starters.

The options if they falter would include Anibal Sanchez, who is working back to form in the bullpen, Daniel Norris, who is developing in Toledo, Buck Farmer, who is working out of the Tigers bullpen and Shane Greene, though he may be more valuable in the back end of the bullpen.

“The last outing Sanchez had, even though he got the loss (Monday), was encouraging,” Avila said. “We hope that continues and maybe he can work his way back to being a starter. If that doesn’t happen, then those two and three good innings he can give us will help the team anyway.

“We expect Sanchez will help us one way or another.”

As for Greene?

“Him going to the bullpen might be the best thing that’s happened to us,” Avila said. “Because he’s been really good in the seventh and we know he can pitch the eighth if we needed.”

If there is a deal to be made at some point, Avila said he expects it would be for pitching, and most likely for bullpen help.

“The bullpen has been all right for the most part,” he said. “We’ve had our hiccups and that’s always a concern. But if Mark Lowe can come back and regain his form, then all is great. We would have Lowe, Greene, Justin Wilson and K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez) — that’s pretty good.

“At the very end, if we end up needing an extra guy to help, that’s an option. But there will be a lot of teams looking for that same bullpen arm, as there are every year.”

And, as Avila demonstrated during the offseason, he’s not going to mortgage the club’s future to make a blockbuster deal. The young talent that he’s painstakingly acquired — Fulmer, Boyd, Norris, etc. — isn't for sale.

“We need those guys today and we need them next year and the years after,” Avila said. “This team is built to win today and also, at the same time, we’re planning for our future. And we know our future is coming soon.”

Twitter @cmccosky