The Detroit Tigers fired Al Avila on Wednesday, leaving them with a general manager vacancy. While the team will take some time and conduct a lengthy search, there are many different options to consider. With that in mind, it’s hard not to see an obvious connection for the position.
The Detroit Tigers have not been shy to dig into the Houston Astros‘ pool of staff and players to use the connections that A.J. Hinch shares. For the general manager gig, the team may be considering trying to pilfer the Astros (former) front office pool, looking at Jeff Luhnow.
After the sign-stealing scandal punishments, Luhnow was given a one-year suspension from Major League Baseball (along with Hinch). If the Tigers could stomach hiring Hinch and take some of the flack that came from that move, they are more than capable of hiring Luhnow, the GM who presided over Hinch when the team began morphing into a perennial contender, cheating or not.
The Tigers are going to be hard-pressed not to consider Luhnow. The catch with Luhnow is that he recently bought a soccer club in Madrid as part of an investment group. But I think the ties to baseball might be enough to sway him back to Major League Baseball.
The Detroit Tigers may capitalize on A.J. Hinch’s connections to Houston.
Luhnow was the general manager 0f the Houston Astros from 2011 up until 2020 when the sign-stealing scandal came about. He built the Astros’ 2017 World Series team and helped piece together a team that has produced some of the best talents in the game and been a winning franchise for the past five-plus years.
There’s reason to want Luhnow to join the Tigers front office. He may be able to use his skill set to build a competitor here in the Motor City. With the connection between Hinch and Luhnow, it’s hard not to see these two exploring a reunion.
However, there’s another name from the Astros that may strike up some interest for the general manager vacancy. R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports listed Pete Putila as a name for the Tigers to consider in his list of prospective candidates for the vacancy.
Who is Putila? Oh, he’s the Astros assistant general manager, holding that role for the last two seasons after spending 12 seasons within the Astros organization. He and Hinch have a connection to one another, and he’s just another name the team must consider throughout their search.
Putila worked his way up from an operations intern gig all the way to the assistant general manager spot. He’s been a face the organization likes to keep around and someone who is respected around the game, as Anderson notes. That said, it’s hard not to think that Hinch might throw Putila in the ring for the Tigers general manager vacancy, hoping that the team brings him in for an interview.
Hinch has to have some say in the matter; with his connections to the Astros and a winning team, it’s hard to think that the Tigers may not capitalize on Hinch as a resource and seek out some of those experienced candidates who have the connection to the team’s skipper.
After all, the expectation is that Hinch was brought in to coach a winning team, and he has not been able to accomplish that, which is not 100% his fault. The team moving in a different direction has to consider that they want Hinch here to see it through.
Whether they poach Luhnow from his Madrid soccer club, grab Putila from the Astros assistant GM job, or settle on another option, the team has to give Hinch some input. This might just lead them to someone with Astros ties when all is said and done.