Detroit Tigers 'making progress' on hiring A.J. Hinch as manager

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers are "making progress" on finalizing a deal to hire A.J. Hinch as their new manager, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told the Free Press late Thursday night.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the discussions.

There's a "real possibility" a deal could be reached as soon as Friday, barring setbacks in negotiations, one of the sources said.

On Thursday, Hinch, 46, interviewed with general manager Al Avila, just two days after completing his year-long MLB suspension for his role in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing plot. The suspension ended with the conclusion of the World Series on Tuesday. 

For subscribers: Why the Detroit Tigers are frontrunners to hire A.J. Hinch as manager

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch answers reporters' questions, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, during a news conference at Yankee Stadium in New York on an off day in the American League Championship Series between the Astros and the New York Yankees. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hinch has a career 570-452 record over parts of seven seasons with the Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks from 2009-19. He has the highest career winning percentage (.594) in Astros history, with his 481-329 record.

Hinch led the Astros to the postseason in 2015, his first year as manager. It was the organization's first time making the playoffs since 2005. That year, Houston lost in the ALDS to the Kansas City Royals.

In 2017,, amid the sign-stealing scandal, Hinch led the Astros to a World Series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite losing to the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 ALCS, the Astros returned to the 2019 World Series and lost to the Washington Nationals.

He was suspended and fired from the Astros on Jan. 13, 2020 — along with general manager Jeff Luhnow. Bench coach Alex Cora, most recently the manager of the Boston Red Sox, also was given his one-year suspension in April for his role in the plot.

Tigers general manager Al Avila considered Cora for the manager job in the early stages of his search, but it's unclear whether Cora interviewed.

"I can't say that I've eliminated anybody," Avila said Oct. 2. "Obviously, the cheating scandal is not a good thing. They're serving their suspensions. And once their suspensions are over, they'll be free to pursue their careers. We have not eliminated anybody from our list at this point. ... I have them on my list."

The Tigers reportedly interviewed at least 10 candidates while waiting for Hinch's suspension to end.

The list includes: Tigers interim manager Lloyd McClendon, New York Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames, Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, Chicago Cubs third base coach Will Venable, Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach George Lombard, Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, Oakland Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay and Atlanta Braves catching instructor Sal Fasano.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.