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Ron Gardenhire is returning to the American League Central, with the Detroit Tigers set to hire him as their next manager, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday.

Gardenhire managed the Minnesota Twins from 2002 to 2014, compiling a 1,068-1,039 record. Under his watch, the Twins won six division titles.

According to The Athletic’s Katie Strang, Tigers general manager Al Avila preferred to hire a manager with prior experience in the role and saw the 59-year-old Gardenhire as a “seasoned, battle-tested option.”

Gardenhire certainly represents a stark contrast to his predecessor, Brad Ausmus. Ausmus was 44 and only a few seasons removed from being an active player when he took over as the Tigers manager in November 2013.

Detroit won 90 games in Ausmus’ first season but failed to make the playoffs over the next three years, which led to the team’s decision not to renew his contract after the 2017 campaign.

After going with a first-time manager in Ausmus didn’t exactly work out, opting for a safer choice in Gardenhire makes some sense.

However, even Gardenhire may struggle to make the Tigers a playoff contender within the next few years. The fact Detroit traded Justin Upton and Justin Verlander, two proven veterans who had multiple years left on their contracts, signaled a massive rebuild is on the horizon.

In September, Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter ranked the Tigers’ minor league organization as the 17th-best in MLB. None of Reuter’s top five Tigers prospects had progressed beyond Double-A.

Detroit is also on the hook for $74 million over the next three seasons for Jordan Zimmermann and $184 million over the next six seasons for Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera’s contract, in particular, puts a serious burden on the Tigers’ payroll and limits the team’s financial flexibility when the time comes to spend on free agents.

Gardenhire should be a steady hand who helps get the most out of the Tigers’ aging veterans and also sets the franchise up well for its next competitive cycle in the future.


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