The Detroit Tigers are in fourth place in the AL Central. The team fired GM Al Avila in August 2022 after a losing season, an all-too-familiar scene for Tigers fans.
A blowout loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday was the team's third shutout loss in June alone. The team hasn't had many bright spots this season, other than a gathering of Detroit sports legends on Opening Day. The Tigers had optimism in spring training that has since fizzled out.
Recently, Avila joined 97.1 The Ticket to share his thoughts on his tenure with the Tigers. He called the Tigers a “sleeping giant” based on the moves he made, but added that there are at least two he'd like back.
“If you're around this game long enough,” Avila said on the show Foul Territory, “you’re going to have some of those that you regret…the kind that leave a bad taste in your mouth.”
The first mistake according to Avila was trading shortstop Isaac Paredes to the Tampa Bay Rays for Austin Meadows before last season.
“Meadows hasn’t been on the (active) roster last year and this year and Paredes is doing very well for Tampa. So that’s obviously a really tough one to take,” Avila said.
Meadows has 21 at-bats this season for the Tigers and five hits. He has zero home runs in 42 games for the Tigers while Paredes has hit 29 with the Rays. Meadows stepped away from the team in April for mental health issues, and his future is uncertain.
The second regret according to Avila was the trade of Justin Verlander. The prize of the Verlander deal was Franklin Perez, whose career was derailed by injuries. Only part-time catcher Jake Rogers remains from the dealing of the Cy Young winner and fan favorite.
Verlander may go into the Hall-of-Fame as a Tiger. But the team didn't get much for trading him.
“If you look back at that trade at that time and the players that we got back, the only one that’s on the team right now is Jake Rogers, but that was a pretty good return that just didn’t turn out to be very good,” Avila said. “But you get into that situation, he was traded basically beyond the trade deadline, he passed through waivers, nobody claimed him, so to make a trade like that is very, very difficult, in particular to get that kind of return.”
The Tigers' playoff drought of eight years is tied for the longest in Major League Baseball. The embattled Avila was not a fan favorite for most of his time in Detroit. He still has faith in the direction of the franchise, however.
“Looking back, I thought this year was going to be an improvement, which it has been,” Avila said. “They’ve got a young nucleus of players, they’ve got some injured guys that are going to be coming back later this year or next year, so they’re not that far off. My expectation is they’re going to have a good year this year and then in 2024, I think they should be pushing for a playoff spot.”