Tigers fired GM Al Avila after 22 seasons
The Tigers announced that they have parted ways with executive vice president and general manager Al Avila, effective immediately, according to a press release from the team. Sam Menzin, vice president and assistant general manager, will continue to be the team’s daily liaison, according to the release. The club’s president and CEO Christopher Ilitch said that he will oversee the search for a replacement for Avila.
“Once I decided to make the change, I sat down with Al and thanked him for nearly 22 years of service to our organization,” Ilitch said in the press release. “Al’s loyalty and dedication has been an example to all during his time as leader in our baseball operations department. I will be overseeing the search for our next baseball operations leader, with the collaboration of several members of the baseball team and running our business. “
Avila is also quoted in the statement: “For nearly 22 years, I have dedicated my heart and soul to this franchise, and I want to thank Mr and Mrs Ilitch, along with Chris, for the opportunity. society and treat me and my family. as their own,” he said. “We have celebrated successes and enjoyed great moments, and I am proud to have worked with so many talented people in baseball activities and throughout the organization. I will cherish our friendship and the successes we have celebrated together. To Tigers fans, you are the best and you deserve to be the winner. I wish the results were better this season but know there is a lot to look forward to in the years to come. “
Avila, 64, has been the club’s general manager for several years now, taking over at the end of 2015 when Dave Dombrowski left. The club has effectively rebuilt during his entire tenure, registering a win rate of under 400 for four consecutive seasons from 2017 to 2020. They have shown some promising signs. last year and then active this winter, hoping to return to contention this season. Instead, however, they had to go through a dismal campaign that, combined with various injuries, resulted in the club having a 43-68 record, second only to Team A among the teams in the Premier League. the American League. With the rebuilding struggling to bear fruit, it appears the club have decided to change course and will begin looking for a new office arrangement for the upcoming season.
Although Avila has been a key office worker in Detroit for seven years now, his time with the club actually goes back much further. He was first hired in 2002, having accumulated a decade of baseball experience, first with the Marlins and then with the Pirates. His first role with the Tigers was as assistant general manager and vice president, until his promotion, which made him the first Cuban-born general manager in baseball history.
When he took over as general manager in August 2015, rebuilding had essentially begun, as the club traded David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria ahead of the trade deadline, while Dombrowski remained at the top. The club set a winning record in 2016 but fell short in the following seasons. They bottomed in 2019, going 47-114 with a win percentage of just 0.292.
One benefit of the poor seasons, of course, is the ability to reinvigorate the farm system, with the tigers owning a number of popular first-round picks in recent years. Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Casey Mize, Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Jackson Jobe and Jace Jung has been the club’s first choice since Avila took over, with both Mize and Torkelson being selected first.
With some of those groups having hit major leagues in recent years, the club put on a decent showing in 2021. Their 77-85 record is much better than in previous seasons, making The team believes that it is time to take active action and complete the tank process. Tigers follow by big spend, offering a $140 million contract for Javier Baez$77 million to Eduardo Rodriguez$13 million to Andrew Chafin and $5.5 million for Michael Pineda. The club also moved into the commercial market, acquiring Tucker Barnhart from the Reds and Austin Meadows from Rays.
Unfortunately, all of those moves failed for a variety of reasons, which only added to the other problems on the list. The nimble Baez is hitting .220 / .262 / .372 into the season with a wRC+ stat of 77. Rodriguez has only made eight appearances for the team due to injury and personal problems. Chafin made a good pitch but he could opt out of the second year of his deal, which he looks set to do. Pineda has only made ten appearances through injury and has a 5.27 ERA for the year. Barnhart scored .198 / .258 / .228 for wRC+ of 41, while Meadows played only 36 games due to various injuries.
In addition to the difficulty of new additions, the core pieces of the club are also not distributed in different ways. Former first overall pick Spencer Torkelson was on the Opening Day list but struggled enough to be selected down to the minors category last month. Riley Greene missed the start of the season through injury and has been in below-average form since joining the team. Matt Manning was limited to just four appearances for the year due to injury, while Mize made just two before Tommy John’s season-ending surgery.
Of course, not all of that can be put at Avila’s feet, certainly not injuries. However, after years of hard work rebuilding, the club and its fans were certainly hoping for more good signs to come and have not found it this year.
Ilitch and the Tigers will now try to find a new leader to guide the team into the next phase. Given the club’s difficulties this year, the organization will be looking for another strong draft position next summer, to add more young talent who despite the difficulties in 2022, could still be key players in the coming seasons. There is also another important turning point coming, as the final season is guaranteed Miguel CabreraTheir huge contract is for 2023, which will free up both a spot on the roster and plenty of payroll space. Who decides how to handle those situations in the future will be determined in the coming months.