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Tigers hire A.J. Hinch as manager

After spending 60 games on the sidelines, Hinch returns to baseball as the Tigers’ new manager.

MLB: Winter Meetings Photo by Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers have hired former Astros and Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch as their new skipper, per a club announcement Friday:

Hinch replaces Ron Gardenhire, who resigned for health reasons late in the 2020 season. The 46-year-old, who played in 27 games for the Tigers in 2003, obviously has a great track record in terms of getting on-field results. Though his managerial career got off to a slow start in Arizona, as he went 89-123 over parts of two seasons, his teams were consistently stellar in Houston, as he posted a 481-329 managerial record while leading the Astros to the playoffs in four of five seasons, winning the World Series in 2017 and the AL pennant in 2019.

Hinch’s hire is highly controversial, though, due to his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, which cost him his job in Houston and earned him a suspension for the entire 2020 season (one which ended up being just 60 games long due to the COVID-19 pandemic). While Hinch was said to have morally opposed the cheating, destroying a TV after he realized it was being used in the team’s quest to steal signs, he clearly could have done more to stop it, and he hasn’t necessarily been contrite for his role in allowing it to persist.

With Hinch’s hiring official, there’s just one managerial vacancy remaining — the Red Sox, who may re-hire Hinch’s former bench coach Alex Cora, who also missed the 2020 season for his role in the sign-stealing operation.