1- Lock Up AJ Hinch for the next 5 seasons.
AJ Hinch and his staff have changed the culture of the franchise. You can see it with the play on the field. You can see it with the roster changes during the season with poor performers shipped to Toledo or out of the organization in favor of at least taking a look at other borderline players rather than just riding out entire seasons of poor play as has been done in the past. You can hear in his and Al Avila’s words the influence he is having on player personnel decisions.
Chris Ilitch should buy out the reported opt-outs in his multi-year deal and let everyone know the rebuild is done, the team is moving towards its competitive stage, and AJ Hinch will be at the helm for the road leading back to the playoffs. Making that financial commitment would help demonstrate that he is serious about fielding a winning ball club and help start changing the narrative amongst some of the skeptics that believe he is just cheap and not interested in anything but turning a profit.
I think hiring AJ in the first place was a big enough bat signal, but the lack of other off-season spending gave the Chris-is-cheap crowd some gasoline for their fire. Most importantly, make this extension move now and not let AJ Hinch even have the opportunity to be enticed away. AJ Hinch is absolutely critical to keep moving the franchise forward. Could you imagine having to start over with a new manager just as the young talent is acclimating to the big leagues and the next wave will be incorporated soon? That could derail this whole process.