Rob Metzler to bring ‘innovative spirit’ as Tigers’ vice president, assistant GM

Detroit News

Detroit — Scott Harris, president of baseball operations, made it clear Tuesday that in hiring director of scouting Rob Metzler away from the Tampa Bay, he was not looking to remake the Tigers in the Rays image or anything of the sort.

“We need to take steps to differentiate ourselves and Rob has done that in Tampa,” Harris said during a Zoom interview with the Detroit media. “But I expect him to come here and partner with all the talent we have in the front office to come up with new processes that can differentiate us from the other 28 clubs plus Tampa.

“We’re not trying to run back what Tampa did here. They’ve had a ton of success and they’re really impressive. But the goal is for Rob to come up with a Tigers way, not a Rays way.”

Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Tigers announced Metzler had been hired in the role of vice president and assistant general manager overseeing both amateur and international scouting. Metzler had been with the Rays the past 15 seasons and their senior director of amateur scouting for the last seven.

“Adding talent on and off the field is the main priority for us,” Harris said. “Today we’ve added a significant talent to our front office. Beyond his intellect and creativity, one thing that stood out to me were his references around the league. I called a lot of people I trust in the game and they all said the same thing: One, he is an excellent teammate who is always looking to empower his staff and to amplify their voices.

“And two, he is extremely competitive. He’s always seeking that next edge to differentiate his department from the rest of the 29 other teams.”

During his time with the Rays, Metzler was responsible for drafting 2022 All-Star Game starter Shane McClanahan, as well as current Major Leaguers Nathaniel Lowe, Joe Ryan and Taylor Walls. The Rays have had one of the top-ranked farm systems for years, which has helped fuel four consecutive postseason runs.

Since 2016 when Metzler took charge of their amateur drafts, the Rays have accumulated the eighth most WAR through the draft (16.8). To put it in perspective, The Cardinals (46.9) and Guardians (31.9) rank one and two.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and I’m excited to work with Scott and the rest of our baseball operations staff,” Metzler said in a release. “We’re going to hit the ground running to ensure our processes of amateur scouting at both the domestic and international levels are the best they can possibly be, and search for the most comprehensive information possible to help inform our decision making.”

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One of the things that helped separate Metzler from other candidates, Harris said, was how comfortably he worked with both the scouting and analytics departments in Tampa.

“He is a guy who is as comfortable in the (scouting) bowl and he is diving into the weeds of the most sophisticated analytical processes, Harris said. “It was very important for me to find someone who was as fluent in pure scouting as he or she was in pure analytics. Rob is the rare individual that can do both.

“That was important to me and why I think he was the perfect fit for us.”

The hiring of Metzler comes on the heels of the dismissal of longtime Tigers’ scouting director Scott Pleis and, on Monday, a mutual parting of ways with assistant general manager David Chadd. Harris said the club’s director of international operations Tom Moore and top international scout Miguel Garcia will remain in place.

“I wanted to bring Rob in because I know he can bring a fresh perspective,” Harris said. “He has an innovative spirit when it comes to acquiring players at all levels. He has some interesting ideas about what he can do internationally. But he’s going to have to leverage the experience of Tom Moore and Miguel Garcia. They’ve been at it a long time and they’ve made significant strides of late in international scouting.

“My hope is they can partner with Rob and show their strengths and cover each other’s blind spots to make sure we’re getting the absolute best talent on the international front.”

On the pro scouting front, Harris said he’s had talks with both assistant general manager Sam Menzin and director of player personnel Scott Bream.

“They do a really good job with the processes they have in place and I think I can add to those processes,” Harris said. “We have tremendous alignment in the type of player we want to bring here and I look forward to working with them.”

Harris said Metzler will be hiring a scouting director to work under him. Also, Harris said he still intends to hire a general manager, though he hasn’t yet begun the interview process for that nor does he have any set timetable for that hire.

“One thing I’ve realized, we have really talented, experienced and creative people already in this front office,” he said “I don’t want to create the impression that we are completely cleaning house here. We’re not doing that. We are establishing new leadership for a handful of departments that’s going to ultimately help us bring more talent here but also bring out the best of the talented individuals we already have in the front office, on the coaching staff and in the scouting bowls around the country.

“I think Rob is a great first step here.”

Prior to joining the Rays, Metzler interned for the Boston Red Sox, Baseball Info Solutions and the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He also served as an assistant coach at Roger Williams University.

“I’d also like to thank the Tampa Bay Rays organization for an incredible 15 seasons, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished,” Metzler said. “The reason I’m here in Detroit is to bring that same energy, passion and innovative spirit, culminating with winning baseball on the field at Comerica Park for years to come.”

Twitter: @cmccosky

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