New York — There was no 11th-hour flurry. Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler are still Tigers. For now. Trades can still be made in August, though the waiver process would be involved.
Would general manager Al Avila have liked to do more before the trade deadline, which expired at 4 p.m. — yes. But, this was never a salary dump. The mission wasn’t to reduce payroll as much as it was to restock the system, particularly the position player cupboard.
And that he did.
“You are never satisfied,” Avila said after the deadline passed. “You are always continuing to add and add … It was a long drawn-out process. We are happy with the return we got. But we're chipping away. We are chipping away with trades, by trading some of the guys and adding little by little when we can.
“And now we will continue to move forward in the process.”
In trading outfielder J.D. Martinez to Arizona (July 18) and pitcher Justin Wilson and his son catcher Alex Avila to the Cubs, Avila acquired five athletic infield prospects.
For Martinez, the Tigers acquired third baseman-shortstop Dawel Lugo, who was the No. 2 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. He has already hit two home runs and a triple at Double-A Erie.
They got 21-year-old middle infielder Sergio Alcantara, who was the 15th rated prospect in the D-backs system. He has been assigned to rookie ball.
Those two entered the Tigers system, according to MLB Pipeline, ranked 14 and 23, respectively.
They also acquired 18-year-old middle infielder Jose King, who is playing in the Gulf Coast League.
“If he were in the draft next year, we think he’d be a second-round pick,” Avila said. “So that’s better than a fifth-round pick (which would have been the compensation for losing Martinez in free agency), right?”
For Wilson and Avila, a trade that was agreed to late Sunday and finalized Monday morning, the Tigers got the No. 1 prospect in the Cubs system — third baseman Jeimer Candelario — and another 18-year-old infielder Isaac Paredes.
Candelario, whom Avila said will remain at third base for the foreseeable future, is now ranked No. 3 in the Tigers system and Paredes is ranked No. 8.
“Several clubs were in interested in Justin Wilson and a few clubs in Alex,” Avila said. “But at the end of the day, some of those clubs decided not to come forth with what we considered the best package that we liked. But the Cubs did at the end.
“We liked Candelario. He was their No. 1 prospect and Paredes was in the top 10. He's probably a little farther down the road but he may end up being ranked even higher.
Scouts across the league, including Tigers’ scouts, believe there is considerable upside on Paredes. Paredes projects to be a corner infielder but he’s major asset is his bat. He has more pop in his bat than most 18-year-old prospects.
“As far as Paredes. He’s 18 years old and playing in the Midwest League,” Avila said. “He's really young for that league and he's doing so well. Candelario is more advanced and closer to the big leagues.”
Counting the draft, the Tigers have added eight players to their top 30:
■ No. 2. Right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo (draft).
■ No. 3. Candelario
■ No. 8. Paredes.
■ No. 14. Lugo.
■ No. 15. Catcher Sam McMillan (draft).
■ No. 18. Catcher Joey Morgan (draft).
■ No. 19. Outfielder Reynaldo Rivera (draft).
■ No. 23. Alcantara.
While the Tigers listened to any and all offers on Verlander – Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, Brewers and Yankees were among the teams that inquired — it was clear early on that they would have to eat larger percentage of his owed salary over the next two and a half years than they were willing to.
There is still an outside chance that Verlander could still be traded in August, though he’d have to clear the waiver process, but Avila said that wasn’t very likely. He said the market may be more receptive in the winter.
“I've talked to Verlander about it and he knows the situation,” Avila said. “I've talked to pretty much all our players about our situation. He knows that if he stays as a Detroit Tiger for the remainder of his contract years, we'll be very happy about it. He's an icon in Detroit; he's an original Tiger.
“We drafted him, developed him and we think he's going to be a future Hall-of-Famer. So we're very happy to have him.”
But, again, if something comes up that would benefit the club going forward, Avila will listen.
“If there's a deal to be made that makes the organization better that puts (Verlander) in a good situation with another club, we'll visit that at the time and we'll move forward on it,” he said. “He knows that, we've talked about it. The trade deadline has come and gone. That doesn't mean something can't happen on August.
“I wouldn't hold my breath.”
Avila said there were also calls on Kinsler and Iglesias, but nothing ever got serious.
“There was plenty of talk, but nothing moving forward that we felt would take root and would be a benefit to our organization,” he said. “We like Kinsler on the team and we like Verlander on the team. We will continue to play them. We feel we can still go out and battle and play hard and win some games. Until something better comes around, we are happy to have them.”
The Diamondbacks, who have been hit with injuries at shortstop, called on Iglesias Monday.
“There were some teams that called just checking in because of injury factors but nothing really took off,” Avila said.
To fill the vacated rosters spots, the Tigers recalled catcher John Hicks and right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez from Triple-A Toledo.