11:38am: Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links), general manager Al Avila has issued the following statement regarding Ausmus: “I spoke to Mr. Ilitch today and to Brad and I can reconfirm that our evaluation is ongoing and decision has not been made.” A decision on Ausmus will be made by season’s end, Avila adds.
7:40am: The Tigers are planning to fire manager Brad Ausmus at season’s end, according to Bernie Smilovitz of WDIV-TV in Detroit. Per Smilovitz, new general manager Al Avila wants to bring in his own manager to give the organization a fresh start. Ausmus, notably, was a hire of former GM Dave Dombrowski, who was dismissed in August and quickly landed in Boston as the Red Sox’ new president of baseball operations. Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is among the candidates being discussed internally as a potential replacement in 2016, according to Smilovitz.
The Tigers are currently a surprise last-place team in the American League Central, with a record of 64-76. Part of the reason for that standing, of course, is the decision by the since-dismissed Dombrowski to sell at the deadline, moving the likes of David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria in a trio of trades for younger talent. However, even at the deadline, the Tigers were a disappointment, having fallen well behind the division-leading Royals and sitting two games below .500 entering the final day of the non-waiver trade deadline.
As George Sipple the Detroit Free Press notes in reporting that he, too, has also heard Ausmus will be ousted at season’s end, Avila said at the time he took over as GM that Ausmus would manage the club for the remainder of the 2015 campaign: “He’s our manager for the rest of the season for sure. I have all the confidence in him. I think he’s done a good job,” said Avila at the time. “…I do have all the confidence in the world in Brad Ausmus and his staff right now.”
If the Tigers have indeed made up their mind on Ausmus, it would seem only fair to the skipper and the team to make a move more immediately. Waiting until season’s end to do so would almost certainly create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the clubhouse and put Ausmus in an extraordinarily difficult position for the season’s final few weeks. An interim manager from the current staff could certainly be named — such is often the case in these situations — before searching for a permanent replacement this winter.
For his part, Ausmus tells Chris McCosky of the Detroit News that he “[hasn’t] been told anything” by the Tigers yet. Last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Ausmus’ job did appear to be in jeopardy, adding that owner Mike Ilitch was skeptical about hiring a rookie manager from day one.