When the Seattle Mariners fired their general manager four months ago, it became natural to wonder whether or not Tigers assistant GM Al Avila might be a candidate for that position. Avila interviewed with Seattle in 2003, eventually losing out to Bill Bavasi, who five years later was dismissed from that very job.
However, Avila won't be in the running for the Mariners' GM job this time around. Not necessarily because he doesn't want the gig, but because his current employer won't let Seattle management get through to him. The Mariners told the Detroit Free Press that the Tigers denied permission to speak with Avila.
So what's up with that? Why allow Avila to interview with the Mariners five years ago, but keep them from speaking to him this time around? According to the Freep, Avila has also interviewed for GM positions with Arizona, Baltimore, and Cincinnati in the past. Is it just as Dave Dombrowski says, that "Al is very happy in the Tigers organization"?
Avila himself supports that assertion.
"I love it here," Avila said in a telephone interview. "I'm committed to bringing a championship back here. This is where I want to be.
"I could spend the rest of my career here and be very happy."
Dombrowski told Jon Paul Morosi that Avila has signed two contract extensions since the 2006 season, giving him a role in the front office through 2011. (Dombrowski is also contracted with the Tigers until that time.) Yet Avila also says that he has "the ambition to be a GM one day."
So is he simply happy being Dombrowski's right-hand man, knowing that he works for a good owner and organization, and unwilling to risk going to a potentially worse situation? Was he no longer interested in the Mariners' position, and Dombrowski protected him from looking unambitious within the baseball industry? Or is there an understanding between the two toward future considerations?
Billfer (and Matt) already beat me to this speculation at The Detroit Tigers Weblog, but I might as well finish the thought I'm posting here. Is Avila set to become the Detroit Tigers' general manager within the next season or two? Dombrowski would just give up one of his three titles in the Tigers' hierarchy, staying on as CEO and President, while his trusted #2 gets the GM chair. Judging from Morosi's latest article on Avila, it appears he's already doing a lot of GM work for the Tigers, anyway.
And as an added bonus, perhaps Avila's son, Alex, will be ready for the majors sometime within the next three years. Everybody could win here!