By: Will Burchfield
Believe what you may about Brad Ausmus’ future, but one writer close with the Tigers front office believes the oft-criticized manager will be back at the helm in 2017.
According to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Tigers feel that Ausmus has shown the necessary improvement this season to warrant consideration for a new contract. His current deal, a three-year pact that he signed in 2014, expires at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
In his first year as manager, Ausmus led the Tigers to the A.L. Central title. In his second year, they finished last in the division.
Amid heavy speculation that Ausmus would be fired in the ensuing offseason, Henning reports that the Tigers instead gave their manager a “critique sheet filled with demands and changes” that he needed to fulfill in his third year.
Many months later, the team feels Ausmus has met the challenge.
He has guided the Tigers through a trying season, one filled with injuries, under-performances and streaky play. With 11 games remaining, they are one game out of a wild card spot.
“The Tigers believe Ausmus has grown into an enormously complex job,” Henning writes.
Perhaps one factor that will influence the team’s decision regarding Ausmus’s future is the belief that he will have a long line of suitors should the Tigers let him go.
“The Tigers know first-hand that axing Ausmus would mean they had trained a well-regarded young manager for his next job,” writes Henning. “The Tigers, in fact, were contacted late last summer by another club wondering if Ausmus was sticking or would be free to interview for their impending opening. The Tigers know, with certainty, Ausmus would be in line for multiple job offers if he were cut loose this autumn.”
Henning clarifies that the Tigers have not made a concrete decision either way. With the team in the midst of a heated playoff race, the front office has more important things to worry about than Ausmus’ next contract.
“We’re not prepared to talk about that right now,” general manager Al Avila said. “Right now, we’re focused on trying to win and get into the playoffs. That’s Brad’s focus, that’s my focus.”
According to Henning, “it is expected that Tigers general manager Al Avila will announce if there will be a contract extension for manager Brad Ausmus” within 24 hours of the conclusion of the season.