Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila made himself busy this week, pulling off a pair of trades to address two of the team's most glaring needs. Avila landed closer Francisco Rodriguez in a widely well-received deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Then he addressed the corner outfield situation Friday evening by acquiring former Tigers first-round draft choice Cameron Maybin in a trade with the Atlanta Braves in exchange for left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Gabe Speier.
Everyone knows adding pitching is top priority this offseason, but bolstering the roster with an outfielder, primarily one that has experience in left field, was also an important item on the club's to-do list. Tyler Collins made some significant strides this season, particularly at the plate, but whether he can contribute as an everyday player remains to be seen. Enter Maybin, who can play both left and center field, an appealing option if the Tigers want to platoon him with Collins and/or Anthony Gose.
The 28-year-old Maybin, who brings his career full-circle by returning to Detroit for a second tour (he was one of the key players dealt to the Marlins in the 2007 trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers), brings a quality bat to the Tigers lineup -- he hit .267 with 65 runs and 59 RBIs in 141 games for the Braves last season. More importantly, however, are his defensive attributes: last season he boasted a .993 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 341 total chances. Additionally, he finished 10th in the National League with 23 stolen bases, so he adds an element of speed. That's critical, especially considering this move more than likely indicates the team is moving on from free agent outfielder Rajai Davis.
By no means is Avila done after the flurry of activity this week, though. Instead, it appears he's made two cost-effective moves to address the team's ancillary needs so that he can now devote time, and money, to focus on the club's primary target: starting pitching.
Though the Tigers are not considered to be in the mix for the marquee names out there like Zack Greinke and David Price, they are being aggressive in trying to identify the best options on the secondary market. The team has expressed interest in Yovani Gallardo recently, though as of Thursday no formal offer had been made, a source told ESPN.com. According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, the team has also expressed interest in relievers Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley and Tommy Hunter to bolster their bullpen.
What does this mean? This past week is merely a precursor for what's to come for Avila and the Tigers brass, with action expected to pick up in advance of Winter Meetings as they try to round out their starting rotation with at least one, but more likely two, starting pitchers.