The Detroit Tigers have made progress in finalizing a deal with former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch to be their next manager, although the agreement is not finalized, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Last Friday, Tigers general manager Al Avila said the team wasn’t ruling out hiring either Hinch or Alex Cora, both of whom lost their jobs before the start of the 2020 season for their roles in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
The Astros fired Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Jan. 13. Major League Baseball suspended Hinch and Cora for the 2020 seasons, with the suspensions ending at the conclusion of the World Series on Tuesday night.
The Tigers are in the market for a replacement for manager Ron Gardenhire, who retired on Sept. 19 with a little more than a week left in the season.
“Really, I can’t say that I’ve eliminated anybody,” Avila said Friday. “The cheating scandal is not a good thing, obviously. They’re serving their suspensions, and once their suspensions are over, then they’ll be free to pursue their careers. So we have not eliminated anybody from our list at this point.”
The Tigers went 23-35 in the shortened season, finishing in the AL Central cellar for the third time in four years. They did bring up two of their most highly touted pitching prospects, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, so that duo got experience in the big leagues.
Avila said it is important that the next manager be able to help with talent evaluation, since there are important decisions to make throughout the roster. He sounds open to a variety of experience levels for managerial candidates.
“I guess one thing you could eliminate is a guy that maybe played and has absolutely no coaching experience, no managerial experience, and goes from being a player directly to a major league manager,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t go that way, but everything else I would say is in play.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.