Detroit Tigers’ A.J. Hinch won’t quash contract speculation: ‘I feel good being here’

Detroit Free Press

PHOENIX — For the first time, A.J. Hinch was asked publicly about his contract with the Detroit Tigers. Fans want to know if Hinch, one of the best managers in baseball and a 2017 World Series champion, plans to stick around.

Hinch, given a chance to set the record straight, refused to answer contract questions with clarity ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

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The inquiry in the visitor’s dugout stemmed from a June 22 report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who picked apart the organization’s failures under general manager Al Avila and revealed some details of Hinch’s contract.

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The Tigers hired Hinch in October 2020, after he served a season-long suspension for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. According to Rosenthal, Hinch’s contract runs for five years, from 2021 to 2025, which neither the Tigers nor Hinch have disclosed.

In October 2017, the Tigers announced a three-year contract for manager Ron Gardenhire. In November 2013, the Tigers announced a three-year contract for manager Brad Ausmus, with a club option for a fourth season.

Before Friday’s game, Hinch was asked about the length of his contract.

“I really never talk about it because it’s never really been an issue to me,” Hinch said. “Attention was brought to it earlier in the season. There was nothing to report. There was nothing to talk about. I’m here to hopefully build a winner and be a part of this for a long time. I didn’t see why it was an issue when someone first mentioned my contract. I don’t see why it would be an issue now.”

Included in Rosenthal’s report, Avila said Hinch does not have an opt-out clause in his contract.

The opt-out clause has been a hot topic — and a cause for concern — since April 2021, when the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning reported Hinch’s contract includes an opt-out clause, allowing the skipper to skip town if the organization fails to live up to expectations and promises.

For 14 months, rumors swirled about Hinch’s potential early exit. Maybe he would return to the Astros, some fans speculated. The Tigers didn’t act fast to quash the initial report, rather allowing the idea of Hinch’s opt-out clause to vegetate for more than a year.

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There are now conflicting reports at a time when the Tigers have the third-worst record in the American League, 28-43 entering Sunday and 11 games out of first place in the AL Central. Avila put the five-year rebuild to rest in spring training and vocalized the team’s goal of making the playoffs in 2022.

“Our great manager A.J. Hinch has set the bar high this year,” Avila said March 18, speaking to fans through a microphone at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. “We’re looking to get back to the postseason. That’s our goal.”

Naturally, fans want to know if there’s any type of language in Hinch’s contract that would give him the opportunity to leave the Tigers for a different managerial position before fulfilling the terms of his current deal.

Hinch was asked about this, too.

“I’m not going to talk about any contract,” Hinch said. “There’s no need for me to. I’m the manager of the Tigers. They’ve signed me here for a long time. I feel good being here.”

Hinch’s agent, Jon Rosen of William Morris Endeavor, declined to comment to the Free Press, citing his client’s confidential agreement with the Tigers. Avila also declined to comment to the Free Press, citing the fact that he already commented to Rosenthal about Hinch’s contract.

“Hopefully, that can all be over,” Hinch said, “and we can just focus on getting a better product on the field.”

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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