Tigers' 2019 preview with Chris McCosky, Bob Wojnowski and Tony Paul The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. – The initial assumption is, Major League Baseball’s decision to scrap the August revocable waiver trade deadline – the non-waiver deadline of July 31 will now be the only trade deadline – will benefit rebuilding teams like the Tigers, who most likely will be in seller-mode again.
General manager Al Avila doesn’t disagree, he’s just not sure it will be significantly impactful.
“It could (benefit sellers),” Avila said Sunday. “Maybe a team feels more pressure that they have to do it, and you can have that player for a longer period of time. That might benefit the seller. At the same time, not having the waiver deadline, the seller doesn’t have the opportunity to try to get something later in August.”
The Tigers, remember, traded both Justin Verlander and Justin Upton in August 2017. They traded Mike Fiers to Oakland in August last year. Avila believes that buyers could be more motivated now to talk about deals in late June and July, but that doesn’t mean their offers will get any juicier.
“The way the market has been, teams are very reluctant to trade away good players that have years of team control for a two-month rental,” Avila said. “This could be a little bit of a benefit (to sellers), but I can’t say it’s going to be a windfall.
“We’ll find out.”
Depending on how the first few months of the season go, the Tigers could be looking to move several players by July 31, among them are free agent-to-be Nick Castellanos, veteran starting pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross, who are on one-year deals, starter Matthew Boyd and possibly closer Shane Greene.
“I could be wrong, but I think most GMs didn’t like the way it was, as far as having to put guys on trade waivers,” Avila said. “So the elimination of trade waivers is probably universally accepted as a good thing for everybody.”
To be clear, teams can still put players on outright waivers after July 31. Those players can be claimed by Aug. 31 and be eligible to compete in the postseason.
Also, there are no restrictions on players who are working on minor-league deals. The Tigers have kept several veteran players at Triple-A Toledo the past two seasons. Those players – players like Pete Kozma, Gordon Beckham, Bobby Wilson, Hector Sanchez, Cameron Rupp, Dustin Peterson and Brandon Dixon -- if they are not on the Tigers roster, could become sought after by any contending team that has an injury issue after the trade deadline.
“Some teams might be looking to do something a little earlier,” Avila said. “Because if you wait until the last minute, you might get shut out and now there’s no other opportunity. But then again, there might be a frenzy at the end, too.
“Every year could be different.”
Avila, as well as manager Ron Gardenhire, are both on board with the 26-man roster, that will take effect in 2020 – that and doing away with the unlimited call-ups in September.
“Most of us believe starting the season with 26 players is advantageous,” Avila said.
Gardenhire has long been opposed to unlimited September call-ups. So, he applauded the move to cap September rosters at 28.
“I agree 100 percent,” he said. “It’s going to take away, for some people, getting to the big leagues, getting the opportunity they might deserve. But still, you start thinking about those teams in the playoff race and they don’t do that.”
It creates, Gardenhire said, a different environment in September from what has been going on all season.
“When you are in a playoff race, you can’t swamp your team with 15 guys,” Gardenhire said. “But when you aren’t in a playoff race, you want to bring up all these guys because you want to see them. Some of them are going to play for you next year.
“It is different. It becomes a disadvantage to teams still trying for a playoff spot.”
It actually puts extra stress on the contending teams. They have to scout and prepare for teams that have as many as 40 players.
“I’ve been there,” Gardenhire said. “It’s just a ton of work and it can get overwhelming. So what they are doing is the right thing.”