Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris announced today that the club has signed manager A.J. Hinch to a long-term extension. Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic was among those to relay the news, adding that the deal was completed the week after the season ended. The details of the new contract were not disclosed but Stavenhagen notes that Hinch’s previous deal ran through 2025. The club also released a statement which announced that Joey Cora will join the coaching staff as third base coach, Anthony Iapoce as first base coach, Ryan Sienko as catching coach and Lance Zawadzki as assistant major league hitting coach.
Hinch, now 49, has now completed three seasons as the bench boss in Detroit. He had previously been manager with the Diamondbacks and Astros, winning the World Series with the latter club in 2017. However, the late 2019 revelations of the sign-stealing scandal in Houston led to Hinch getting suspended by MLB for one year and fired by the club. He was reportedly opposed to the sign-stealing and made attempts to stop it, smashing a monitor on multiple occasions, but the punishment ultimately landed on him for not doing enough to succeed in stopping the scheme.
After serving his suspension by sitting out the 2020 campaign, Hinch quickly garnered interest from other clubs around the league, with Dusty Baker having taken up his previous job in Houston. Despite the suspension, his reputation as a quality skipper hadn’t diminished and he was hired by the rebuilding Tigers. Their first season under Hinch resulted in a record of 77-85, below .500 but their best winning percentage since 2016.
Encouraged by that showing, the club decided to be aggressive going into 2022, signing Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Báez. But a litany of injuries and some poor performances from those that were healthy led to a disappointing 66-96 campaign. General manager Al Avila was fired and later replaced by Harris, though with the latter getting the POBO title. Hinch survived and the club had another somewhat encouraging season in 2023, getting their win total back up to 78, good enough for second in the American League Central.
It seems that one year together was enough for Harris and Hinch to build a solid working foundation. Harris told Stavenhagen today that he didn’t want Hinch to feel like an inherited manager and offered the extension the day after the season ended. It’s unclear how long the new deal runs but Harris said today that “We are pumped that A.J. is going to be the manager of the Tigers for a long time.”