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Tigers nearing agreement with AJ Hinch to become manager, just days after his suspension ends

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Tigers nearing agreement with AJ Hinch to become manager, just days after his suspension ends

Hinch, who played for the Tigers during his career, is expected to be Detroit’s next skipper

a-j-hinch.jpg

Former Astros manager AJ Hinch’s season-long suspension stemming from Houston’s sign-stealing scandal concluded when the World Series ended on Tuesday night. It didn’t take much time for him to near an agreement on a new job, either.

Hinch, 46, talked with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday about their managerial vacancy and was making progress toward landing that gig as of Thursday night, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. (Ron Gardenhire, who had previously held the position, retired in-season because of medical concerns.) Detroit’s interest in Hinch should come as no surprise; general manager Al Avila acknowledged that Hinch and former Red Sox skipper Alex Cora, ousted as part of the scandal’s aftermath, were “on my list” in early October.

Hinch spent five years at the helm in Houston, winning 59.4 percent of his regular-season games and a pair of American League pennants. The Astros also won the 2017 World Series under his watch, and recorded three consecutive 100-plus-win seasons.

Whether Hinch has expressed enough contrition for his part in the Astros’ scandal is to be debated — remember, his idea of putting an end to things was to smash a pair of television monitors — but those who find his apology wanting could, at least, take solace in knowing that our Dayn Perry ranked the Tigers’ job as the worst of those available. Here’s what Perry wrote:

The Tigers have endured four straight losing seasons and aren’t far removed from a 114-loss campaign in 2019. While they were more respectable in 2020, the bar for recent success is quite low. If you’re the new manager, however, that low bar is actually a good thing. What’s also a good thing is the young pitching situation. Casey Mize has the wherewithal to be a future frontline starter, and Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning also have strong potential as long-term members of the Detroit rotation. On the hitting front, Spencer Torkelson, the top overall pick of the 2020 draft, should move very quickly through the system and could be in place at some point next season. He has tremendous potential with the bat and is the kind of hitter around which lineups are built. Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron are also top-50 or so prospects and should be core contributors on the next relevant Tigers team. For that to happen soon, though, the Tigers will need to hit on most of these names, and their recent player-development track record is at least questionable. Sharing a division with the White Sox, Twins, and pitching-factory Indians also isn’t optimal. That said, there’s young talent in place and family ownership that takes winning seriously when it’s feasible.

The White Sox also filled their vacancy on Thursday by hiring Hall of Famer Tony La Russa. Should Hinch and Detroit come to terms, that would leave the Red Sox as the lone team with a managerial job available. 

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