It is a shocking move to say the least. The Detroit Tigers announced on Tuesday that Al Avila has been promoted to general manager and executive vice president of baseball operations. Former team president and GM Dave Dombrowski has been released from his contract with the Tigers, owner Mike Ilitch announced. Avila will report directly to Ilitch.
Ilitch offered Avila the job on Saturday, the new GM said during a press conference to announce the move. Details of the contract, which was signed Tuesday, have not been announced.
Avila also stated that manager Brad Ausmus will remain as manager of the club for the remainder of the season. The coaching staff will be evaluated after the season, however.
"I would like to thank Dave Dombrowski for his 14 years of service," Ilitch said. "Together we've enjoyed some success, but we're still in aggressive pursuit of our ultimate goal: to bring a World Series title to Detroit and Michigan. I've decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities. I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership."
Avila will assume all responsibilities related to baseball operations of the club. Executive Vice President of Business Operations, Duane McLean, will continue to oversee all aspects of the team's business operations, and will also report directly to the team owner.
Avila said during the press conference that the Tigers were initially going to be buyers at the trade deadline, but changed their mind at the last second after the team failed to get on a winning streak. He said he agreed with Dombrowski's moves and has been a part of the decision-making process from the start. Ilitch, too, signed off on selling.
Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan has already speculated that opportunity would be in Toronto, while there's also been talk of the Red Sox as a destination. The Angels are another team that has come up. Dombrowski's contract was set to expire at the end of this season. The Tigers have scheduled a press conference at 5 p.m. with Avila.
Oddly enough, there was no quote from Dombrowski anywhere in the team release. Avila, 57, has been with the Tigers for the last 14 years, with 24 years of experience at the major league level. As if the exclusion of a statement from the now-former GM wasn't odd enough, Avila had an interesting statement regarding the 2015 season.
"I'm very excited for this opportunity, and honored and grateful to Mr. Ilitch for having the faith and trust in me to run the ballclub in our continuing pursuit of a World Series championship," Avila said. "After 24 years in professional baseball and 14 with the Detroit Tigers I believe I'm uniquely qualified to be successful in this role in leading this organization. We're confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come."
The Tigers made the decision to sell largely because Dombrowski and the Tigers brass had convinced ownership that selling was the best decision. Avila's statement that he believes the team can still contend is surprising, especially considering the team's prior stance as to the 2015 season.
Avila assisted in signing Tigers All-Star Miguel Cabrera to the Marlins during his time with Miami, and has been instrumental in bringing players such as Cabrera to Detroit, as well as current right field All-Star J.D. Martinez after his release from the Houston Astros in 2014. Avila's father, Ralph Avila, was a longtime scout for the L.A. Dodgers, retiring as a vice president. Avila's son, Alex, is the Tigers catcher -- and a temporary first baseman in Cabrera's absence -- on the team.