When the Detroit Tigers announced that Brad Ausmus would not return for the 2018 season, Tigers fans and media members started putting together lists of potential replacements. One name that consistently appeared on those lists (including ours) is former Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Now with the Miami Marlins after being fired by Atlanta in 2016, Gonzalez may have a chance to lead a club again next year. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that Gonzalez and the Tigers are linked “a lot” when Detroit’s managerial search is mentioned. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported that the Tigers have contacted Miami to speak with Gonzalez about their open manager position.
Gonzalez is best known for his tenure with the Braves, which stretched from 2011 to 2016. However, he got his start in the Marlins organization back in 1992. He coached in their minor league system for seven years before serving as the team’s third base coach in 1999 and 2000. He then spent a few years in the Braves farm system before returning to Miami as their major league manager in 2007. He coached Florida to a 276-279 record in three-plus seasons, including winning records in 2008 and 2009. However, despite being their winningest manager at the time, Gonzalez was fired midway through the 2010 season.
Gonzalez then moved back to Atlanta, serving as the successor of longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox. Gonzalez managed the Braves to three consecutive winning seasons from 2011 to 2013, and won the 2013 NL East crown. The team fell off after that, however, and Gonzalez was fired after starting the 2016 season with a putrid 9-28 record. He was hired by the Marlins as a third base coach last offseason.
Gonzalez has drawn mixed reviews as a manager. While fans are generally unhappy with his in-game decision-making — he was skewered for his bullpen management during the 2013 NLCS — he has generally been well-liked by his players.
Of course, Heyman’s cryptic wording may mean this is a whole lot of nothing.
Tigers have formed a nice long list of managerial candidates, leaving no stone unturned. But I hear fredi gonzalez's name linked there a lot— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 3, 2017
For all we know, Heyman is reading Bless You Boys when reporting these rumors. However, Gonzalez is a natural fit with the Tigers. He and general manager Al Avila have worked together before — they were both with the Marlins from 1992 to 2001 — and Gonzalez has the big league experience Ausmus sorely lacked when he took the job four years ago.