How the Chicago White Sox made the Detroit Tigers' manager search more complicated
For the first time since 2008, the Chicago White Sox made the postseason.
Despite losing in the American League Wild Card series, the White Sox (35-25) have completed the rebuilding and secured second place in the AL Central after the fourth or worse sixth of the last seven seasons.
Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria, 36, watches from the dugout during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, September 1, 2019 in Atlanta. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)
Rick Hahn, general manager of White Sox, fired manager Rick Renteria after four seasons on Monday.
As Chicago begins its search for a leader, the Detroit Tigers are pushed out of the spotlight. In September, Ron Gardenhire retired after more than two seasons, and General Manager Al Avila is on the job of finding a new manager to complete the rebuilding.
[Detroit Tigers Management Search: These Are Candidates, Traits Al Avila Is Looking At]
The three teams with leadership positions are the Boston Red Sox, White Sox, and Tigers. Some of the top candidates are A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora - both involved in the Houston Astros 2017 fraud scandal - together with Fredi Gonzalez, Don Kelly and at least for the Tigers interim manager Lloyd McClendon.
"The ideal candidate will be someone who has experience in a championship organization over the past few years," said Hahn on Monday.
This describes Hinch and Cora, two people Avila confirmed on October 2nd. The tigers think: "I have them on my list." MLB reached out to the Tigers after Avila's comment to remind them that they cannot be approached about the job until after the 2020 World Series, which kicks off October 20.
[A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora is being considered for the Detroit Tigers managerial position.]
Every manager is on the verge of completing a year-long ban from MLB for their role in the 2017 Astros scandal - Cora as the ringleader, Hinch as a spectator who hasn't done enough to control his clubhouse.
With seven years of experience as a manager, Hinch won the 2017 World Series with Cora as a bank coach. He lost the ALCS in 2018 before returning to the World Series in 2019 when the Astros lost to the Washington Nationals in seven games.
Cora has two years of management experience and led the Red Sox to a victory at the 2018 World Series in its first season. In 2019, the Red Sox finished third in the AL East and missed the postseason. The Red Sox had a sign theft scandal in 2018, but Cora faced no further discipline.
What does that mean?
Before Renteria was fired, the Tigers were expected to make choices (after the Red Sox) between Hinch, Cora, Gonzalez, McClendon and other candidates with little or no management experience.
Monday's White Sox decision will leave the Tigers with fewer options.
The opening of the Red Sox is perhaps still the most sought after in baseball. The franchise has nine world championships (third highest in the majors) and secured 14 AL pennants. Given the prestige of Boston, the team's chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom, could be the first choice.
The expectation is that Cora will return to the Red Sox even if Bloom doesn't reveal any clues.
[Stand up for and against the Detroit Tigers who hire Alex Cora as manager]
Could Alex Cora return as manager next year? He'll likely be in the mix when the Red Sox sees this off-season.
"I still don't want to go into my thoughts on Alex," said Bloom on September 27th. "I don't want to say anything about Alex that I didn't say to Alex. Obviously I have, 'I'll have a time where I can get into Alex and his situation, my thoughts on it. That time is not now. I hope , everyone will respect that. "
Cora began his coaching legacy in Boston, so it makes sense to return home to continue. He played there from 2005 to 2008 as an infielder and at the age of 44 is considered one of the best managers in baseball.
That would open the door for the tigers to take Hinch.
For Subscribers: The Case for Detroit Tigers, the A.J. Hinch as the next manager
MLB has Astros manager A.J. Hinch for his role in stealing signs.
But the White Sox messed up every team's situation as the Chicago job is the most attractive target for a free agent manager, given recent results. (Ozzie Guillen is not included.)
The White Sox made the 2020 postseason - the Tigers and Red Sox didn't - with an offensive juggernaut that centered around teenagers Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada and Nick Madrigal, and veterans Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal .
[How the Detroit Tigers' playoff hopes were doomed by Chicago White Sox]
The rotation in Chicago features dreaded starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, with Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease having completed the important stages of their young careers. Giolito threw a no-hitter this season; Keuchel finished with a 1.99 ERA.
The White Sox and Red Sox appear to be numbers 1 and 2 for the most desirable landing spot. With the White Sox and Red Sox parting Hinch and Cora, the Tigers will be without two of their primary goals in finding a manager to lead the organization out of the rebuilding that saw two losses in 2018 and 114 losses in 2019.
"I'm not trying to hire a man for a year or two and then move on," Avila said. "You're always trying to hire the man you think can get you as far as you need to."
Sounds a lot like Hinch and Cora.
But options may run out of options for the Tigers, leaving Avila with a leaner range of choices than it originally projected.
Evan Petzold is an intern in sports coverage with the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has launched a new digital subscription model. How to get access to our most exclusive content from Detroit Tigers.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Does Chicago White Sox Job Post Violate the Detroit Tigers' Hunt for AJ Hinch?
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