Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila isn't exactly the most popular figure in Detroit sports right now.
Since taking over the GM position from Dave Dombrowski in 2015, he's made several moves – most notably trading away top talented players such as Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez. He's also dealt the likes of Justin Wilson and his son Alex Avila. Meanwhile, free-agent signings such as Jordan Zimmermann haven't panned out the way the franchise had hoped.
Avila spoke to WXYZ‘s Brad Galli over the weekend to discuss some of the moves he's made while on the job as GM:
Al Avila traded away faces of the Tigers franchise in the team's efforts to rebuild. He's watched some key guys win the World Series.
"Very tough to trade those kind of guys, but it was a necessity that we had to do. I had to do it. I was the guy chosen to do it," Avila told me. pic.twitter.com/QfzTCpIiMh
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) February 16, 2020
“I feel great for them (winning in other cities), because they're great competitors and great baseball players,” he said. “We had great relationships with them and we still do, but it was a necessity at the time. We had to make those moves and it was the right thing for the organization to, quite frankly, turn over the roster and start brand new.”
“We had backed ourselves into a wall where we had to get out of it. Very tough to trade those kind of guys, but it was a necessity that we had to do and I had to do. I was the guy chosen to do it and I did it. As we move forward, the organization will be better for it as we move forward into the future.”
Of course, another chief criticism of Avila is that the prospects he's acquired in return for top-tier talent have taken far longer than expected to develop. Franklin Perez, acquired from Houston in the Verlander deal, has been hampered by shoulder woes since his arrival in the Motor City.
“That's a risk you run when you trade for prospects,” he explained. “Proven players and prospects are two different things. So the best thing you can do is get the best possible players back in the trades, and at the time, those were the best possible players we could get back. And you hope they can stay healthy and progress through. Now everyone progresses at different levels and time frames.”
The Tigers signed Avila to a “multi-year” contract extension this summer, so he'll be around to see the development of those players for the foreseeable future.
– – Video via Brad Galli of WXYZ Detroit – –