MLB Rumors: Tigers Insiders Wonder If A.J. Hinch Will Leave DET amid Team's Struggles

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 25: A.J. Hinch #14 of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the Minnesota Twins in the third inning of the game at Target Field on May 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Tigers defeated the Twins 4-2 in ten innings. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
David Berding/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers have started the season just 26-42, already leaving them 11.5 games out of first place in the AL Central, and major question marks have emerged about general manager Al Avila and manager A.J. Hinch.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, some rival executives "question whether Avila is creative and savvy enough to build a consistent winner," while folks in Detroit "wonder if Hinch might bolt, pointing to an April 2021 report that said his contract included an opt-out clause."

Avila has denied that Finch's deal—which reportedly runs through the 2025 season—has that clause, however.

In parts of two seasons with the Tigers, Hinch has led the team to a 103-127 record after finishing third in the AL Central last season.

As Rosenthal noted, a lot has gone wrong outside of Hinch's control. Casey Mize and Matt Manning have dealt with injuries, while one of the team's prized additions in free agency this offseason, Eduardo Rodriguez, has been on the restricted list since June 13 and was injured prior to that move.

That has left the Tigers without three-fifths of their starting rotation for a healthy chunk of the season.

Meanwhile, the team's other major offseason addition, infielder Javier Baez, has struggled this year (.209 with five homers and 19 RBI). Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario and Robbie Grossman have also surprisingly struggled at the plate after strong 2021 seasons.

And help likely isn't inbound from the farm system in the immediate future, with many of their top prospects coming from the past two drafts. While that could give them some ammunition to trade for veteran players, it would be nonsensical for a team likely already out of playoff contention to make win-now moves.

The better option is becoming sellers come the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

So unless the Tigers are savvy spenders in free agency next winter—or undergo some significant internal improvement—the club could be a few years away from legitimate contention, at best.

For Hinch, who regularly had the Houston Astros in the mix before he was fired amid the team's sign-stealing scandal, perhaps that wait won't be worth the trouble.