The Tigers’ search for a new front office chief has come to an end, as they are hired to hire Giants general manager Scott Harris as the new head of baseball operations, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Tigers owner Chris Illich fired Alavela from his position as general manager again on August 10.
Harris spent three seasons as general manager for the Giants, serving in that position under Farhan Zaidi’s baseball operations in San Francisco. He previously spent eight seasons with the Cubs (2012-19), rising from Director of Baseball Operations to Assistant General Manager. Prior to that, he worked in Major League Baseball as the league’s coordinator of Major League operations. Harris, who graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2009 and earned an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 2015, also spent time with the Nationals (2008) and the Reds (2010).
A key lieutenant to baseball chiefs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer during the Cubs’ latest stint of fame, Harris was hired away by San Francisco in November 2019 and played a bigger role with the Giants as they composed the MLB’s Top 107. -Win in 2021. However, the Giants fell to arch-rival Dodgers in the National League Series, and the 2022 season was just as disappointing as the 2021 campaign was encouraging in San Francisco. This year’s giants, so far, are planted with a record of 69-77 and have been out of the post-season picture for the majority of the summer. They will be looking to reload for the 2023 season, but may be in the market for a new General Manager to work under Zaidi.
Harris will now move into the spotlight for an organization that had a more frustrating 2022 season than the one he left behind. The Tigers, encouraged by a 69-66 bid after April in 2021, expected 2022 to be a turning point at the end of nearly half a decade’s worth of rebuilding efforts. Detroit has gone to great lengths to build its research and analytics division, and the appointment of AJ Hinch as manager ahead of the 2021 season represented a “win now” mentality. Heading into 2022, the best predictions Spencer Turkelson And the Riley Green They were about to join the young pitchers Casey MizAnd the Tarek Scobal And the Matt Manning In the Major League roster, Detroit enjoyed strong showings in 2021 from Jimer CandelarioArticle 5 pickup Akil Badou The second veteran Jonathan Scopeamong other things.
Active offseason company brought free agents Javier BaezAnd the Eduardo Rodriguez And the Andrew Chavin to Detroit, where they joined through business acquisitions Austin Meadows And the Tucker Barnhart. Unfortunately, nearly all of these acquisitions (except Chafin) have failed thus far, due to a combination of poor health issues, out-of-field issues, and minor poor performance. The lack of production was exacerbated by the massive rash of injuries, most notably Mize requiring Tommy John surgery and Skubal undergoing flexor surgery. Manning is healthy now but has been out for most of the year due to shoulder issues. Moreover, the top 2021 artists such as Baddoo, Schoop and Candelario suffered greatly.
It’s been a disastrous season that cost Avila his job and now it’s putting Harris in the midst of his own dilemmas. The Tigers signed Rodriguez for another four years and Baez for another five, pending future withdrawal clauses that currently seem unlikely to be exercised. Meanwhile, Turkelson and Green, expected to be the main gears driving a more competitive group engine, often seemed to exaggerate their demarcation efforts. Mize will be missing a large part of the 2023 season, and the same could be true for Skubal. The youthful core that served as a source of optimism is at least temporarily in dire straits.
Enough went wrong in 2022 that the Tigers were said to have at least considered listening to performances on Skubal on the trade deadline, before his injury problems broke out. A trade-off has always seemed unlikely, but the fact that such a possibility is worth considering is emblematic of the stalled rebuilding efforts and the challenges that Harris will now face.
It seems unlikely that the property will give the green light to another arduous rebuilding effort, but at the same time, there is no easy solution in store. The Tigers seem further away from the competition than they were a year ago at this time – certainly more than just one or two acquisitions away from correcting the ship. Meanwhile, last winter’s additions of Baez and Rodriguez have added some noticeable heft to future payrolls, and injuries have at least temporarily weakened a promising young core.
There are some similarities between the current Tigers and the 2020-22 Giants that Harris helped fix. No one tied the Giants anywhere close to the best team in baseball before the 2021 season, and even a 29-31 show by the 2020 Giants exceeded some expectations after a string of three seasons that saw the club play at 214-272 pace. Both play in cavernous cottage gardens that can attract shooters looking to rebuild their stock after tough seasons and/or injuries.
The Giants, led by Harris and Zeddy, developed a reputation as one of (if not the best) teams in baseball. The best team) in revitalizing the shooters’ career. Kevin GussmanAnd the Anthony DisclavaniAnd the Alex WoodAnd the Drew SmileyAnd the Tyler Anderson And the Jacob Jones They are just some of the names that have gone to San Francisco in the past few years and improved their stock dramatically. They also showed a knack for spotting quality hitters in unnoticed moves (eg Mike JastrzemskyAnd the Donovan SolanoAnd the Darren Rove). Sure, Illich hopes Harris can bring some of that success to his new home in Detroit.
Harris is jumping into a position that is less common—albeit certainly not well known—for newly appointed baseball operations leaders. Several owners cut the bait on the GM or the President and brought in a new voice and perspective to help guide the club through rebuilding, but what was supposed to be the heavy lifting of rebuilding was already done in Detroit. Harris will now have to find a way to continue building the enterprise’s infrastructure, adding some new faces to the roster and taking more advantage of the current underperformance (like Baez and Torkelson) without ripping things off entirely to the buttons.
If there’s a small upside, it’s possible that the Tigers play in a rather weak division in the Central American League. There is no Dodgers-esque team looming over the top of the rankings. This bodes well for a return to contention sooner than some critics might expect, but a lot more needs to go well for the Tigers to prevent the current eight-year drought from swelling into a decade.
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