The Detroit Tigers have fired general manager Al Avila. The 64-year-old native of Havana, Cuba had been the Tigers general manager since on Wednesday. In addition to being the general manager, Avila had held the title of executive vice president of baseball operations for the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball club. At the time of the firing, the Tigers were last in the American League Central at 43 wins and 69 losses.
Avila was the only active Latin American general manager in Major League Baseball. In May, Veronica Hernandez of Colombia became the first Latina general manager in baseball’s minor league history, when she was named the general manager of the Modesto Nuts, the Single A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The Nuts play in Single A.
When Avila was initially hired as the Tigers general manager in 2015, he became the first Cuban-born general manager in Major League Baseball history. From 2007 to 2013, Mike Hill of Cincinnati, Ohio was the general manager of the Miami Marlins. Despite not being born in Cuba, Hill was of Cuban-American descent, because his mother was Cuban.
Veteran in Tigers Organization
Avila had spent two decades in the Tigers organization. Initially, as of 2002, he was Tigers’ assistant general manager and vice president. Then in 2015, Avila was promoted when the Tigers fired Dave Dombrowski.
Time in Major League Baseball before Detroit
Prior to being with the Detroit Tigers, Avila was in the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations. In Florida, Avila was the Marlins’ assistant director of Latin American operations, director of Latin American operations, director of scouting, interim general manager, vice president, and assistant general manager. He was the Marlins’s director of Latin American operations when the Marlins won the 1997 World Series. This was the Marlins’s first World Series title in franchise history as they beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games.
Then in 2002, Avila spent a brief time with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason. He was a special assistant with the Pittsburgh Pirates from January 23, 2002 to April 14, 2002.
Struggles with the Tigers
There is no doubt the last eight seasons have been a struggle for the Detroit Tigers, and Avila was not successful in his role as general manager. Detroit had a record of 427 wins and 606 losses for a winning percentage of only .413.
In Avila’s first full season in Detroit, the Tigers were very respectable as they had a record of 86 wins and 75 losses. Under today’s Major League Baseball playoff format, that would have been good enough to get into the postseason. However, at the time, there were only two wildcard spots available in each league, and the Tigers finished two and a half games back of the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles for the wildcard spot.
In 2017 and 2018, the Tigers were 34 games below the .500 mark each season as they had a record of 64 wins and 98 losses. Then in 2019, the Tigers only had a winning percentage of .292 in 161 games as they were at 47 wins and 114 losses.
Keeping A.J. Hinch as Manager
The Tigers did decide to keep A.J. Hinch as manager. The native of Waverly, Iowa is in his second season in Detroit. He won a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017.