DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers made the safe play.
Faced with a number of painful rebuilding years on the horizon, general manager Al Avila has chosen veteran Ron Gardenhire as the manager to guide the young team into the future, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
A contract agreement or length of the deal is unknown. It is likely the Tigers and Gardenhire are negotiating a contract.
The person requested anonymity because the Tigers have not officially announced the hire. The decision was made after Gardenhire impressed Avila in an interview at Comerica Park on Tuesday. He interviewed with the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.
Gardenhire, 59, is the most accomplished managerial candidate on the market. In 13 seasons with the Minnesota Twins in 2002-14, he won six American League Central championships and posted a managerial record of 1,068-1,039 (.507 winning percentage). His lone playoff series win came in 2002 in the American League Division Series.
He was the Arizona Diamondbacks' bench coach this season, but was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February and underwent surgery in April. He missed five weeks, before returning to the team in May.
Gardenhire replaces the departed Brad Ausmus, whose contract was not extended after this season. Ausmus led the Tigers to the playoffs in his first year, but the Tigers finished 314-332 (.486%) in his four seasons, including a league-worst 64-98 this year. The Tigers will have the top pick in the 2018 MLB draft.
During the process, Avila interviewed a number of candidates, including Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, Astros bench coach Alex Cora and Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond. Internal candidates Omar Vizquel and Dave Clark also interviewed for the position.
After announcing Ausmus would not return for the 2018 season, Avila said Major League managerial experience would be preferred. With Gardenhire, the Tigers get plenty of that.
The Athletic was first to report the Tigers' intention to hire Gardenhire.
Detroit Free Press