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Meetings signal start of rebuild for Tigers

Kinsler deal sets offseason tone; Fulmer draws interest
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers left the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning further along in their rebuilding project than they were when they checked into Disney's Swan and Dolphin Hotel and Resort on Sunday. It doesn't mean they've lessened the struggles ahead, but by adding to their stockpile of young talent, they've given themselves more options for the future.

Wednesday's trade of Ian Kinsler did not bring the Tigers a top prospect, but with the acquisition of teenage pitcher Wilkel Heranandez and outfielder Troy Montgomery, the Tigers added two lower-level prospects they felt had upside.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers left the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning further along in their rebuilding project than they were when they checked into Disney's Swan and Dolphin Hotel and Resort on Sunday. It doesn't mean they've lessened the struggles ahead, but by adding to their stockpile of young talent, they've given themselves more options for the future.

Wednesday's trade of Ian Kinsler did not bring the Tigers a top prospect, but with the acquisition of teenage pitcher Wilkel Heranandez and outfielder Troy Montgomery, the Tigers added two lower-level prospects they felt had upside.

Video: Callis on prospects received in Kinsler trade

Montgomery entered the Tigers' prospect rankings list at No. 25, according to MLB Pipeline.com. With that, 13 of Detroit's top 30 prospects have been added to the organization since June, a remodeling vital to the club's long-term goal of turning to their farm system for Major League talent instead of relying on free agents and trades.

What's next
With Kinsler gone, the ranks of veteran Tigers with the realistic potential to be dealt is thin. But with Detroit listening on young right-hander Michael Fulmer, it still might not be done. It wouldn't be easy, but if the Tigers are going to swing a mega-trade to jump-start their system, the 24-year-old former American League Rookie of the Year is the one player that could draw such a return. That's why general manager Al Avila is willing to listen.

It's more possible than probable, especially with Chris Archer and other established starters also on the trade market. But with the higher-priority trades now out of the way, general manager Al Avila has more time to listen to offers for other players. Closer Shane Greene and right fielder Nicholas Castellanos are also trade candidates that have drawn some limited interest, while shortstop Jose Iglesias is expected to stay.

It's not just prospects the Tigers need. With Kinsler gone, the Tigers have a void in their infield to fill. Dixon Machado is expected to garner at least a share of the starts at second base, but the Tigers are hoping to sign a second baseman on a Minor League contract to compete with Machado. Other Minor League signings are likely to follow on the pitching side as the market unfolds and free agents try to find a landing spot before Spring Training. Avila did confirm that Detroit is indeed interested in Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano.

Rule 5 Draft 
The Tigers used the top pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft on speedy center fielder Victor Reyes, who will have a chance to compete for playing time in Spring Training alongside Leonys Martin and JaCoby Jones. Detroit lost catcher Locke St. John, right-hander Francisco German and first baseman Will Allen in the Minor League phase of the Draft.

Video: Mayo discusses Tigers selecting Reyes in Rule 5 Draft

GM's bottom line
"There's been a lot of talking amongst clubs. We've certainly talked to several clubs. I think everybody's kind of positioning themselves to see where everything falls into place. I think people are trying to figure out where to put their money, how a certain player might fit here or there. I think everybody's still checking their options. Right now there's nothing moving quickly, but there certainly is a lot of talk, a lot of communication." -- Avila, on working the trade market

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers