Las Vegas — A little slow.
That's how Tigers general manager Al Avila described the pace of his dealings early on at the Winter Meetings. The baseball world knows his agenda: He's looking for an affordable, veteran shortstop willing to come to the Tigers on a one-year deal and he's listening and gauging trade interest on right fielder Nick Castellanos.
"We are talking about trades with several clubs," Avila said, not divulging if all or any of those calls were about Castellanos. "We actually spoke to several clubs before coming here.
"But other teams are looking at free agents and trades, too. We have to see where all that falls, too."
There have been media reports indicating the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros have at least checked in with the Tigers on Castellanos. At this point, though, the talks have been cursory.
"There have been several conversations," Avila said. "But I can't say we are close to anything. There are a lot of things going on in baseball. We're just one part of it."
In other words, there are bigger dominoes that have to fall — more coveted and expensive players who need to be signed or traded — before serious talks heat up regarding Castellanos.
As for signing a shortstop, or middle infielder — not much happening on that front yet, either.
"It's still ongoing," Avila said. "We are here to sign a shortstop or a middle infielder. It may happen here, it may not."
Among the pool of candidates are Jordy Mercer, Aideny Hechavarria, Tim Beckham, Alcides Escobar and Freddy Galvis.
Rogers staying at Double A?
Avila, somewhat surprisingly, also said he was shopping for another catcher. After the Tigers signed veteran Bobby Wilson to a minor-league deal, it was believed that he would be the veteran insurance policy at Triple-A Toledo while Grayson Greiner and John Hicks shared the big-league catching duties for the Tigers.
"We'd like to get one more catcher in our system," Avila said.
Here's why: Avila said the tentative plan was to keep top catching prospect Jake Rogers at Double-A Erie next season, instead of starting him at Triple-A as expected.
"That decision will be made in spring training, but we are leaning toward him starting in Double-A, for his own good," Avila said.
Rogers, who came to the Tigers from Houston in the Justin Verlander trade, struck out 112 times in 408 plate appearances at Erie last season, and 11 more times in 52 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League.
"We've been talking about hitting for most of the winter and how we are going to approach it," Avila said. "When we get to spring training, there's going to be an emphasis on approach, on two-strike approach and things like that.
"We've got to work on that and not just him."
Giants claim Gerber
The big-league indoctrination for outfielder Mike Gerber could not have gone worse last season. He struck out 21 times and managed just four hits in 47 plate appearances in 18 games with the Tigers.
It was, to say the least, an uncharacteristic struggle. In five minor-league seasons, Gerber had hit .279, with a .346 on-base percentage, slugging .468 with an OPS of .814. None of that translated for him to the big leagues last season.
The Tigers took him off the 40-man roster last Thursday and placed him on waivers, which was required ahead of the Rule 5 draft. But his minor-league track record did not go unnoticed.
On Monday, Gerber was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants.
It’s a much-needed fresh start and a strong opportunity for Gerber. The Giants, at present, don’t have a lot of organizational depth in the outfield. In fact, at 26 years old, Gerber is the oldest outfielder in the system not on the projected 25-man roster.
And he’s the only outfielder in their system right now ticketed for Triple A.
Golf with Gardy
Among the items the Tigers have donated for auction in support of the annual Winter Meetings Charity Auction is "Golf with Gardy."
The winning bidder and two guests will have the opportunity to play golf with manager Ron Gardenhire on a mutually agreed upon date and course to be determined. The winner also will receive four tickets to a Tigers game, parking in the Tigers Garage and four passes to watch batting practice on the field.
The item opened with a bid of $625 Monday morning. The auction will continue through Thursday, with the proceeds going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Museum.
Make a bid or follow the auction at MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction.