By: Will Burchfield
Throw another name into the hat for next manager of the Tigers.
Former Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez will interview with Detroit on Thursday, per The Athletic.
Gonzalez, 53, was the Marlins’ third base coach in 2017.
He served as manager of the Braves from 2011 to 2016, over which time he went 434-413. He also managed the Marlins from 2007 to 2010.
To date, Tigers general manager Al Avila has interviewed two in-house candidates to replace Brad Ausmus next season: first base coach Omar Vizquel and third base coach Dave Clark. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon is expected to interview soon.
It was reported last week that Giants third base coach Phil Nevin is also a “strong candidate” for the job.
Avila has promised an “extensive search” for Ausmus’ replacement.
“I don’t have a timeline as far as when it’s all going to be said and done, because we want to be thorough and we want to make sure that we get the person that we really want,” Avila said last month.
In explaining his decision not to bring back Ausmus for the 2018 season, Avila said the organization wanted a new voice to lead its rebuild.
“The conclusion is, let’s just take a brand-new road and open up to new things. We felt that it’s a new beginning, a fresh start and we’ll have fresh leadership as we move forward,” Avila said.
Per The Athletic, one MLB executive called Gonzalez an “ideal” fit for the job.
Avila made it clear that he wants a skipper with experience, something Ausmus had none of — from a managerial standpoint — when the Tigers hired him in 2014.
“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 in the major leagues,” Avila said.”
Gonzalez, with 10 MLB seasons under his belt, certainly fits the bill.
Then again, Avila agreed with the assumption that a younger manager is better fit to take the reins of a potentially arduous rebuild. In that regard, Gonzalez might not be the best candidate.
“I know one thing,” Avila said. “I would like to get a guy that has the energy to get through the process because it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a long process, a hard process, a trying, grinding process, and you want somebody that has the kind of energy that can get through that.”
This much, at least, seems clear: Avila’s search for a new manager is unlikely to end soon. In terms of attracting the best candidates, he has his sales pitch lined out.
“I’m trying to sell them on opportunity, because, really, you’re going to be the manager of a team that’s in full rebuild mode with all the opportunity in the world in front of you,” said Avila. “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.
“Whoever calls or has interest in this position comes in fully aware, wide-eyed, of what he’s walking into. While it’s a very difficult process, it’s also going to be a tremendous opportunity for a person to come in and have success in a full turnaround.”