MLB News: Change Underway For Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers
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Tristin McKinstry

The Detroit Tigers are one of the worst teams in baseball. They sit 30 games under .500 with their prize-free agent acquisitions massively underperforming and top prospects not fairing much better.

The Tigers also have the worst injury luck in the major leagues. Just one starting pitcher from their opening day roster is active in the rotation. For the longest time, that one pitcher was Tarik Skubal, but he was recently shut down for the season.

That one pitcher is currently right-hander Matt Manning. Manning himself spent time on the 60-day IL this season.

With expectations not even coming close to being met, Tigers fans have demanded change. Recently, the team began the process of delivering that change.

Goodbye Al Avila

Detroit Tigers
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The changes in Detroit began on August 10. The team announced they had parted ways with general manager Al Avila after seven years at the helm.

“Once I made the decision, there was no reason to wait until the end of the season,” Tigers owner Chris Ilitch said. “I wanted to get a jump right now on the search process … The season’s not even done and in fairness to Al and to our club, to make an assessment on the season, enough of the season has to transpire. At this point in time, enough of the season has occurred and we’ve played enough games to where I feel as though we just have not seen progress this year.”

Avila spent more than two decades with the Tigers, originally being hired as assistant general manager in 2002.

Needing Progress

Detroit Tigers
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Ilitch's press conference was a bit awkward, to say the least. The Tigers owner seemed to stick to a script while speaking and even threw Avila under the bus at one point while discussing past trades.

However, one consistent talking point he returned to was the need to see tangible progress on the field. “I’m looking for us to make progress each and every year,” Ilitch told the media. “So if we do that, ultimately we’re going to accomplish our objectives. And I feel our progress certainly stalled this season. So, after I decided to make a change in past few days, I sat down with Al and thanked him for his 22 years of service. And he understood.”

Who Stays?

Detroit Tigers
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While a lot of change is expected within the Tigers, there are a couple of constants expected to remain. The first is manager AJ Hinch, hired by Avila in late 2020.

Hinch ruled out making a move to the front office, maintaining that he wants to remain in the dugout. He also wants to remain in Detroit. “Obviously this organization has committed a ton to me and vice versa,” Hinch said. “I want to help get it right."

Another constant expected to remain is Ryan Garko, the team's director of player development. He has received rave reviews around the organization.

“I feel good,” Garko said Sunday. “It’s just a matter of getting systems and processes in order. And I think we’ve done a good job of that, the way we communicate."

Who Replaces Avila?

Detroit Tigers
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The Tigers' search for a new general manager is underway. The team is seeking a fresh, more modern approach to the game of baseball. The team will cast a wide net in their search.

Detroit has two potential internal candidates for the position: assistant general managers Jay Santori and Sam Menzin. Menzin is currently the "point of contact" for day-to-day baseball operations in Avila's wake.

However, it seems a bit more likely the Tigers will look outside of the organization for their new general manager. Potential candidates include Atlanta Braves scouting director Dana Brown, Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Billy Owens, and Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Billy Owens.