Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the Detroit Tigers have signed general manager Al Avila to a contract extension.
The details of the extension are not yet known. His current contract had been set to expire after the 2020 season.
Avila took over as the Tigers’ GM in August of 2015 following the dismissal of Dave Dombrowski. At that time the Tigers were coming off of four straight AL Central titles but, thanks to a rash of injuries, finished in last place, and posted a losing record for the first time since 2008. The trade deadline that year saw the team deal David Price, Yoenis Céspedes and Joakim Soria. While they would bounce back to a second place finish in 2016, Avila’s early tenure brought with it the beginning of the end of the Tigers’ decade-long period of contention and the beginning of a rebuild that hit full speed in 2017 following the death of owner Michael Ilitch, the trades of Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, and the subsequent firing of manager Brad Ausmus.
How’s the rebuild going? It’s honestly too early to tell. Avila’s drafts since taking over have received mixed reviews, as have the returns he has gotten for players he has traded away. There are some segments of Tigers fandom that are down on the rebuild and believe that Avila’s marching orders prioritize keeping payroll down over returning to contention. Then agin, no rebuilds have ever been super popular among most fans, and the proof of this one will be in the won-loss record, say, two or three years from now.
Either way, this extension is a signal from new owner Christopher Ilitch that he likes how the rebuild is proceeding and wants Avila to see it through.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.