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Tigers GM Avila says payroll won’t go up, team wants to get younger

September 25, 2016: Detroit Tigers President Al Avila throws a foul ball down to the fans during the game on Sunday afternoon, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)
Steven King/Icon Sportswire

The Detroit Tigers have been known to be one of the biggest free-spenders in all of baseball. Team general manager Al Avila said he hasn’t conformed what his budget for next year’s payroll will be, but he did say it will not go up according to MLB.com Tigers reporter Jason Beck.

Avila also said in the same media session that the Tigers “want to get younger” and hope to start running “the organization without having to go over our means”.

These are pretty vague statements, but reading between the lines, Detroit isn’t going to be a major player in free agency like in years past. Within the last five years, the Tigers have forked over $934 million to just six players. That includes the nine-year, $214 million deal Detroit signed first baseman Prince Fielder to before the 2012 season. The club traded him to Texas two years later.

Last winter, the Tigers signed outfielder Justin Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman to a five-year, $110 million deal. It helped Detroit win more games, but ultimately, the team still finished short of the postseason.

Avila’s comments indicate that the organization can’t continue to run its business with such an open wallet. Interestingly, despite all the money spent in recent years, the Tigers still lost ace starting pitcher Max Scherzer to free agency and traded aces David Price along with All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes mostly due to the fact the team didn’t believe they could re-sign them.

Avila also said the process of building a younger team isn’t going to be complete in one offseason, but expect the project to begin before 2017.

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