By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

After entering the 2016 offseason with a clear intention to cut payroll, the Tigers may be prepared for a drastic 180.

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According to Anthony Fenech, general manager Al Avila hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the Tigers could surpass the 2017 luxury tax threshold. The threshold is set at $195 million for 2017; the Tigers currently have $179 million on the books.

Accounting for league minimum salaries and projected arbitration salaries, however, the team’s 2017 payroll is expected to pass the luxury tax threshold.

Avila’s comments, delivered at the ongoing Winter Meetings in Maryland, jibe with a report on Monday afternoon that the Tigers aren’t as trade-inclined as they originally appeared. At his end-of-the-year press conference in October, Avila had said the organization needed to adopt a more efficient front-office approach.

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He later added, “Changes that we want to make are going to be dictated by what’s available on the trade market.”

Since then, numerous Tigers stars have been mentioned in trade rumors, most recently Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez. But on Monday, Avila clarified “it’s very possible” that the Tigers could enter next season with both players on their roster.

Avila also suggested the Tigers haven’t been in advanced trade talks with any team at the Winter Meetings, which began on Monday and conclude on Thursday.

If the Tigers do intend to add payroll in the next few days, a position they could seek to upgrade is center field. They traded Cameron Maybin last month (a really smart move, by the way) and have yet to identify his replacement. That player could still come from within – both JaCoby Jones and Anthony Gose are potential options – but here are five center fielders they could target on the free agent market.

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Per MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, the Tigers would be hit with a 30 percent luxury tax (on the overage) if their payroll exceeds $195 million next season.