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Tigers fire Al Avila: Five candidates who could take over as Detroit's general manager

Wed, Aug 10, 2022
MLB News (AP)

Tigers fire Al Avila: Five candidates who could take over as Detroit's general manager

The Tigers announced on Wednesday they had fired general manager Al Avila, who had been with the organization for more than two decades, and who had taken over as Detroit's lead executive in August 2015. In parts of eight seasons since, the Tigers had enjoyed just one winning effort, with that coming in 2016. Detroit entered this season with high hopes based on an offseason that netted Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez and an incoming prospect crop that included Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson.

Unsurprisingly, given the above news item, the Tigers did not live up to expectations. They entered Wednesday with a 43-68 record, putting them in last place in the American League Central and on pace for a 63-win season.'

"I want to re-establish our momentum and progress toward building a winning team and I am driven to find a talented executive to help us do that," Tigers chairman Christopher Ilitch said in a press release. "They'll be entering an organization with many foundational elements in place and an exciting path forward. Tigers fans deserve wining teams, and I'm highly focused and committed to deliver that to the people of Detroit and Michigan.'

"With new baseball operations leadership will come a fresh perspective toward evolving our roster and maximizing our talent to reach our objectives. To be clear, our goals are to build a team that wins on a sustainable basis, qualifies for the playoffs, and ultimately wins the World Series."'

With Avila's fate signed and sealed, the next pertinent question is who will take his place at the helm?

Below, AP Sports has speculated on the matter by highlighting five potential candidates who may or may not end up on the Tigers' preferred headhunting firm's recommended short list. Do note that this is more of an art than a science, and that the individuals are presented in alphabetical order.

1. Dana Brown, Atlanta Braves, vice president of scouting

The Braves have been one of the better drafting teams in the sport since Brown took over the reins as Atlanta's VP of scouting in 2019. He's unearthed gems like outfielder Michael Harris, starter Spencer Strider, and infielder Vaughn Grissom while also providing Alex Anthopoulos with enough attractive young players to land first baseman Matt Olson and other contributors in trades. It's worth noting that Brown is believed to have been the main person behind the Tyler Matzek signing as well.

2. Randy Flores, St. Louis Cardinals, director of scouting

Flores, who was believed to be in the mix for the New York Mets general manager job last winter before it went to Billy Eppler, brings an interesting background to the table. He's a former big-league reliever whose post-playing career saw him work in television and then found his own video-scouting service. He joined the Cardinals in his current role in 2015, and they've been able to sustain their success in part because of the scouting department's ability to blend traditional and analytical evaluations.

3. James Harris, Cleveland Guardians, assistant general manager

Harris has also taken an atypical path to his current destination. A decade ago, he was serving as a consultant for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. He later served as the Chief of Staff for the Philadelphia Eagles. Harris eventually made his way to the baseball industry, and he ascended from the Guardians' director of player development to an assistant general manager in short order. You might be familiar with his name because he nearly landed the Chicago Cubs general manager job last winter.'

4. Billy Owens, Oakland Athletics, assistant general manager

Owens has been a well-regarded member of the A's front office since 1999. He's served in a variety of roles, ranging from coach to his current job as the club's assistant GM. He's been connected with several general manager openings, including the Mets' recent vacancy. It stands to reason he's overdue for a team of his own.

5. Pete Putila, Houston Astros, assistant general manager

There's been no shortage of speculation during A.J. Hinch's managerial tenure suggesting that he has greater input in Detroit's baseball operations decisions than the standard skipper. Whether or not that's true, it might make sense for the Tigers to hire Putila, one of Hinch's former coworkers with the Astros. Putila has a good reputation in the game -- not always a given for those who were present during the Jeff Luhnow Era -- and he would be able to help the Tigers catch up to the modern game.

Article Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
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