Detroit Tigers: Revisiting the Erick Aybar Trade Nearly a Month Later

Detroit Tigers infielder Erick Aybar has been with the club for nearly a month, playing at a number of positions. The former Angel has provided a significant bench upgrade.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila stood pat at baseball’s annual trade deadline, deciding to stick with his roster of players. The decision has largely payed off for Avila as Detroit is in the thick of the playoff race.

However, the Tigers decision maker did make one trade in August.

Avila acquired infielder Erick Aybar from Atlanta for utility player Mike Aviles and catching prospect Kade Scivicque.

The trade was a relatively low-risk transaction for Avila. Scivicque has the potential to be a quality contributor at the Major League level, but Detroit has James McCann penciled in as the starting catcher for the better part of the next decade.

What’s more, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and John Hicks provide quality backups.

This is all without mentioning fellow catching prospects like Grayson Greiner and Arvicent Perez. Detroit also drafted two catchers in Brady Policelli and Austin Athmann in the 13th and 14th rounds of the 2016 draft.

In other words, they had the depth behind the plate.

Aybar’s Numbers So Far

A shortstop by trade, Aybar has already been utilized at second base, third base and shortstop for the Tigers. So far, he’s seen action in a pair of games at second, five at third and 10 at shortstop.

Over the course of those games, the veteran is hitting .235 with a .316 on-base percentage, a .373 slugging percentage and a .689 OPS. It’s a small sample size, but the 32-year-old’s on-base percentage and OPS are extremely similar to the numbers he produced (.321 on-base percentage, .700 OPS) when he made the All-Star team in 2014. 

Generally hitting either second or at the bottom of the lineup, Aybar has also chipped in with five runs scored, four doubles, four RBI and a home run. He’s walked more times (six) than he’s struck out (five).

Much-Needed Help

The trade for Aybar came at a time when Detroit’s depth was being exposed on the right side of the infield. Nick Castellanos and Jose Iglesias were both sidelined. This left Aviles, Casey McGehee, Dixon Machado, and Andrew Romine as the team’s options to fill in at shortstop and third.

None of the four players were perfect fits.

Aybar stepped in and helped fill in for Iglesias. In fact, if it weren’t for the 26-year-old’s elite defense, the veteran could be starting full time.

Once again, it is a small sample size, but the former Angel holds the advantage in a number of statistical categories. These include on-base percentage, slugging percentage, ISO, wOBA, wRC+ and strikeout percentage. Aybar has done all this while posting a BABIP that is nearly .020 points lower than Iglesias’.

Despite Iglesias returning at shortstop, Aybar continues contribute at third base. He’s currently in a time share situation with McGehee, Romine and JaCoby Jones.

Bench Cog

When Castellanos eventually returns at third base, Aybar will shift to a bench role for Detroit. While he may not be providing an upgrade in the starting lineup, the longtime Angel is a significant improvement on the bench.

The infielder’s 0.1 WAR may not seem like much, but it’s an excellent stat compared to Aviles’ -1.4 number with the Tigers. What’s more, his 86 wRC+ ranks ahead of all of Brad Ausmus’ previous bench options, including Tyler Collins, Saltalamacchia and Romine.

This article originally appeared on