Detroit Tigers News: AJ Hinch, Jim Leyland, more pitching, Winter Meetings updates

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch
Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Though the Detroit Tigers haven't had much going on in the way of player acquisitions at Winter Meetings so far, it would be hard to call the last few days uneventful for them. More so than a few teams who have hardly made a sound at what is supposed to be the busiest part of the offseason, the Tigers have managed to make things mildly interesting for fans while hopefully hinting at more work that's being done behind the scenes.

The Tigers are not the Dodgers, not the Braves, not the Blue Jays — their name isn't being thrown around or attached to rumors of high-profile signings, but hopefully they are making good on their stated intentions for Winter Meetings in the background of all the hubbub and will have some player news for us soon. In the meantime, here's what been going on for the team in Nashville so far.

More Tigers news

AJ Hinch, the Tigers' manager since 2021, signed a multi-year extension with the team yesterday. GM Scott Harris was vague on terms (“We’re not sharing terms or details on contracts for non-players," said Harris), but did note that Hinch would be with the team "for a long time." In conjunction with the official announcement of Hinch's extension, the Tigers added that Joey Cora, Anthony Iapoce, Ryan Sienko, and Lance Zawadski would join the team in various roles. This year, Hinch led the Tigers to their best record since 2016 and a second place finish in the division, and he seems poised to push the Tigers to compete in earnest next year.

In other manager news, Jim Leyland was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first day of Winter Meetings. He was elected with 15 of 16 votes on his first ballot, the only one out of this year's class of eight managers, umpires, and executives to become a Hall of Famer. In his last three years with the Tigers in 2011-2013, Detroit won three consecutive AL Division Series and one AL Championship. They also went to the World Series in 2006 and 2012.

On the player side of things, Detroit has been quiet. Pitching is still being reported as their top priority, but they have yet to add anyone onto the roster following their signing of Kenta Maeda last week. They've been interested in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, which would be their biggest signing in years if they got him, and Seth Lugo (though it seems they've moved on from him), but have otherwise not made their preferences clear.

MLB news

In league-wide news, the Mariners and Braves were first to strike at Winter Meetings with a late-night trade on the first night. Jarred Kelenic and two other Mariners went to the Braves for prospects, in a move which is being widely speculated on as a salary dump/position clearing effort for the Mariners, who have also been in talks with the Rays on a potential Randy Arozarena and/or Isaac Paredes trade. The Mariners have gone quiet since then, but some intriguing signs are starting to point to a blockbuster in the making.

The fates of Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, and pretty much every other big-name free agent or trade piece are still unknown. Multiple teams are still in on Soto, but little movement has been made between the Padres and teams thought to be frontrunners, like the Yankees. In actual free agent news, former Tiger Eduardo Rodriguez has been spotted in Nashville and a deal with a new team could be moving quickly.

Also coming up in these last two days of Winter Meetings are the MLB Draft Lottery, where the Tigers have 1.6% chance of drawing first position in next year's lottery, and the Rule 5 draft, wherein all teams without a full 40-man roster, including the Tigers, will re-select prospects who have been in the minor leagues for 4-5 years.

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