DETROIT - Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila discussed the team's ongoing search for a new manager after he announced Brad Ausmus would not return following the end of the 2017 season.
Avila made the decision Wednesday, and notified Ausmus Thursday, he said. Ausmus and his staff will finish the season, but new leadership will take over in 2018, Avila said.
"It's a new beginning, a fresh start," Avila said. "We'll have fresh leadership, new leadership, as we move forward."
After making the announcement official in the Tigers' dugout before Friday's game, Avila talked about the search for a new manager.
"As I speak now, moving forward, we'll be taking names and getting information and move forward in our search for our new manager," Avila said.
Ausmus was the 37th manager in Tigers history and went 312-325 in four seasons with the club.
Candidates inside and outside organization
Avila said he's going to be open-minded during the search for a new manager, interviewing candidates both inside and outside the organization.
"When I did talk to the staff, I did tell them that anyone who has interest in being interviewed for the managerial position, that I will certainly be open-minded and interview them, also," Avila said.
Avila said the position is unlikely to be filled by anyone in the Tigers' minor league system.
"At the minor-league level, I don't believe that there's a guy right now ready for that job," Avila said. "But at the major-league level there's a possibility."
Managerial search will be 'extensive'
The search will be extensive as Avila hopes to find the right person to lead the organization through the next stage of its development.
"We're also going to do an extensive search," Avila said. "We have a lot of names written up, and we're going to do a lot of background checking. We're going to do a lot of thorough background work."
Avila said there's a long list of names that they'll work through "little by little."
How important is managing experience?
The loudest criticism when the Tigers hired Ausmus was that he had no experience as an MLB manager. Fans believed the team was built to compete for a World Series, and they didn't believe Ausmus had the knowledge to lead them there.
With the team in a polar opposite situation now, how important will experience be for the new managerial candidates?
"I would say that experience comes in different ways," Avila said. "It could be an experienced manager that's already managed in the big leagues. But it could also be an experienced manager that has managed in the minor leagues, or it could be an experienced guy that has worked in a major-league club, in a major-league dugout as a coach."
When Ausmus took over as Tigers manager, he hadn't spent a single game as manager of an MLB or minor-league team. He went straight from being a player to being a manager.
"I would say, the manager doesn't have to have managerial experience at the major-league level, but he certainly has to have managerial experience, in my opinion, in the minor leagues, or coaching experience at the major leagues so that the person who comes in is well-prepared in that sense," Avila said.
Since it became clear that the Tigers wouldn't contend for a playoff spot this season, the team has traded away star veterans for prospects in an effort to build for the future and cut payroll. Avila talked about whether the clear goal to cut down on spending will affect the search for a new manager.
"That's a good assumption," Avila said. "Except that I would say there might be veteran managers who want to take on the task of a rebuild. I don't know that. Until we go out there and find the right candidate, I couldn't tell you if it's going to be a young guy, middle-aged guy or an older guy."
Avila pointed out that the next Tigers manager needs to have the energy to get through what he called a "long, hard, trying, grinding process" to get the team back in contention.
"You want somebody that has that kind of energy that can get through that," Avila said. "And that kind of mindset."
Selling points for Tigers job
It's clear Avila believes the Tigers' manager position will be an attractive one for potential candidates.
He talked about what he'll try to sell as he pursues the perfect fit.
"I'm trying to sell them on opportunity, because, really, you're going to be the manager of the Detroit Tigers, that's in full rebuild mode with all the opportunity in the world in front of you," Avila said. "You're going to be able to go from the bottom to the top, as opposed to taking something over that's just already there."
Avila said the payroll "paralyzed us" from making trades and improving the team. He said the full rebuild has allowed the Tigers to create some breathing room on the payroll and build depth in the farm system.
Is there an advantage to making announcement now?
Avila talked about whether making the announcement about Ausmus before the end of the season gives the Tigers an advantage over other teams that wait to part ways with outgoing managers.
"Well right now I'd say we have a little bit of an advantage," Avila said. "We have a whole week before the season ends, so we will start the process immediately in compiling names. I don't have a timeline as far as when it's all going to be set and done, because we want to be thorough and we want to be sure that we get the person we really want."
Avila said since the Tigers aren't in contention for the playoffs, the front office assessed the staff and decided it was time to make a change.
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