A.J. Hinch on verge of becoming Tigers manager

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A.J. Hinch is closing in a return to a major league dugout.

The former Astros manager, who was suspended by MLB this season and fired by the team for his involvement in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal, is finalizing a deal to become the manager of the Detroit Tigers, according to ESPN.

With Hinch’s suspension ending after the World Series, he is free to sign with any team and it appears the 46-year-old will replace Ron Gardenhire, who retired after this past season. Tigers general manager Al Avila didn’t seem to mind that his next manager was involved in the sign-stealing as his last stop.

Early in the process, Avila didn’t rule out Hinch or former Red Sox manager and Astros bench coach Alex Cora early in the process. Cora was also implicated in the scandal, suspended by MLB and fired as manager by the Red Sox. His suspension also ended this week.

“Really, I can’t say that I’ve eliminated anybody,” Avila said earlier this month. “The cheating scandal is not a good thing, obviously. They’re serving their suspensions, and once their suspensions are over, then they’ll be free to pursue their careers. So we have not eliminated anybody from our list at this point.”

Hinch, who won the scandal-stained 2017 World Series with the Astros, is 570-452 as a manager — winning 100-plus games each of his last three seasons in Houston. He appears to be taking over a Tigers team that finished 23-35 in the shortened 2020 season and has finished last in the AL Central three out of the past four years.

The news of Hich’s potential hiring comes on the same day the division-rival White Sox named 76-year-old Tony La Russa their manager. Hinch was rumored to be a candidate in Chicago but never interviewed.

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