Ron Gardenhire is set to become the next manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Pending the completion of a contract, the Tigers are turning to Gardenhire, just days from his 60th birthday, who has 1,068 career wins but faced questions in his 13-year managerial stint with the Minnesota Twins for his resistance to an analytics-based scouting system.
The Athletic first reported the Tigers’ decision was imminent.
Gardenhire was bench coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017.
In Detroit, the Tigers are in full rebuild mode.
They own the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and spent most of the second half of the 2017 season restocking a flat-lining farm system.
In August, the Tigers dealt longtime ace Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros, setting the stage for manager Brad Ausmus to be let go one month later. Ausmus and Gardenhire were candidates for the opening with the Boston Red Sox and interviewed with former Tigers president Dave Dombrowski. Ausmus remains a candidate for that job.
Gardenhire is a throwback who often used a “smallball” approach in Minnesota, asking his top hitters to be willing to work the count to reach base and then be ready to run after reaching.
The Tigers could continue stockpiling young talent in the offseason, as parting with J.D. Martinez, a smash hit in the National League with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and catcher Alex Avila (via trade to the Cubs), will mean the youngest lineup in Detroit in decades.
The top prospect in a reloaded farm system is 19-year-old right-hander Franklin Perez. Perez reached Double-A with the Astros but is not expected to hit the big leagues for another year. Three of the top five prospects in Detroit’s system are pitchers.