Detroit – Cameron Maybin’s initial reaction when he heard the Indians had acquired closer Andrew Miller and possibly catcher Jonathan Lucroy?
“I don’t give a (bleep),” he said. “It’s what this game is about, playing against the best. We’ve got a pretty good team over here. We’re not too shabby.”
That was the general consensus around the Tigers’ clubhouse Sunday morning.
“It makes them a better team,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “And it will certainly have an impact on our division. That being said, we’re 1-11 against them without those guys, so maybe it’ll change our luck.”
Said shortstop Jose Iglesias, “Good for them. It doesn’t guarantee them any wins. It doesn’t guarantee them anything. But they believed that’s the best moves for their team. Good for them.”
It was later learned that Lucroy had exercised his no-trade clause and vetoed the trade to the Indians. It was reported that Lucroy wanted the Indians to rip up the club option for 2017 in exchange for him accepting the trade.
Indians, who had traded a package of premium prospects for him, refused. Both sides moved on.
Even before Lucroy nixed the deal, though, the Indians’ moves had no impact on the plan or the process for Tigers general manager Al Avila. He has said for weeks he’d most likely stand pat at the deadline.
He would keep his eyes and ears open and do his due diligence to improve the team. But the simple fact is, he doesn’t have the same trade chips the Indians, Red Sox, Nationals and the other active buyers on the market have.
The Rays have made it known their starting pitchers – Chris Archer, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi – could be had at the deadline. And the Tigers have had scouts following the Rays closely the last few weeks.
But the Tigers were never able to get a conversation started. They didn’t have the requisite prospect package.
Teams who are selling elite talent, like the Rays, Yankees, White Sox, Pirates and others, are demanding a package of top tier prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A level. For the Tigers to put together a comparable package to the one the Indians sent to the Yankees for Miller, it would almost certainly have to include right-handed pitcher Joe Jimenez and some combination of Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd.
The Rays, in fact, had a scout at Norris’s rehab start at Double-A Erie this week.
When the Tigers took a run at closers Miller and Craig Kimbrel last offseason, the asking price started with Fulmer, Norris and Boyd.
But Avila has been steadfast against moving those players and you can see why. Fulmer, Norris and Boyd are working at the big-league level right now and are key components to the Tigers’ late-season push.
Jimenez was just promoted to Triple-A Toledo and might well be pitching in Detroit in September.
Players like Steven Moya, Dixon Machado, Mike Aviles, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey have minimal trade value at this time of year.
That doesn’t mean the Tigers won’t still make a deal or two. Often as the deadline nears (4 p.m. Monday) teams get desperate and prices sometimes come down. The Tigers would love to add a veteran starting pitcher to the back of the rotation and not have to put the full burden of a pennant race on Norris and/or Boyd.
But Avila seems resolute against mortgaging the Tigers’ future. Wisely so.