Baltimore, Md. — There was definitely a spring in manager AJ Hinch’s step here Monday. He had known for a few weeks that Tigers chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch was likely to hire San Francisco Giants general manager Scott Harris as the Tigers president of baseball operations.
And finally he was able to let the cat out of the bag.
“Man, it’s inspiring to see the direction of the franchise and what Scott can bring to the organization,” Hinch said. “The way his mind thinks. The vision he has for this organization. He’s been with so many successful teams and successful people. I think he’s going to do it his way and he’ll have a lot of information for us on what to do to make this a winning organization again.
“He’s all in and I love how he told me that at the front of our relationship.”
More: What They’re Saying: Tigers Hire Scott Harris as President of Baseball Operations
Harris, 36, served as general manager of the Giants for three seasons, after spending seven years in various roles in the Cubs’ baseball operations division under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
“This is an exciting day for me and my family, and I am humbled by the opportunity to lead baseball operations for the Detroit Tigers,” Harris said in the statement. “The Tigers have a rich history and tradition as a co-founder of the American League, and I can’t wait to start working on the next chapter of Tigers baseball.
“I want to thank Chris Ilitch for believing in my vision for this organization and for being so accommodating during the interview process.”
The Cubs played in the postseason four years in a row during his tenure, winning the 2018 World Series, and the Giants set a franchise record last season with 107 wins.
“Chris (Ilitch) has searched incredibly thoroughly,” Hinch said. “He was tireless in his efforts to find our next leader and he landed an exceptional person, a deep thinker and an accomplished man.
“I just believe in him. This is a good outcome for our organization and I look forward to doing my part.”
Harris replaces Al Avila, who was fired on August 10 after serving as president of baseball operations and general manager. It is unclear whether Harris will hire a general manager.
Assistant general managers Sam Menzin and Jay Sartori are expected to stay with the club. Scott Bream, vice president of player personnel, was also at the club in Baltimore.
“(Harris) knows the good stuff we have here and we’re trying to do,” Hinch said. “He also knows that we have a lot of room to grow. I want him to realize that he has people here running through a wall for him. And I’m one of them.”
“We’re going to do our part to give Detroit fans what they deserve – and that’s a winning franchise.”
Since the start of the renovation in 2017, the Tigers have steadily built up the infrastructure, especially in the field of player development. Millions of dollars have been spent upgrading facilities and technology, virtually rebuilding an analytics database and department.
Maybe they haven’t quite caught up with the Dodgers in that regard, but Harris doesn’t exactly come in bare-bones.
“When you have an organization that has been stumbling for a few years and not quite standing up yet, it’s easy to assume that not everything is great,” Hinch said. “The reality is that we have a lot of good people here. We have a lot of good things that can be improved.
“And I, for example, I’m going to run through a wall for him.”
Until now, the Tigers seemed to have always planted one foot in traditional ways and one foot in the new school of baseball activities. Now that Harris is on board, both feet move in the same, progressive direction.
“Scott is a difference maker, innovator and fiercely competitive, always looking for an edge,” Ilitch said in a statement. “We are delighted to welcome Scott and his fiancée, Elle, to the Tigers family and look forward to the bright future of our organization.”
Hinch has met and spoken to Harris many times over the past few weeks. Before that he only knew him in passing. But he was sold to Harris almost from the first meeting.
“He wants to win a World Series,” Hinch said. “Like, that’s what we do here. He’s made that perfectly clear. He’s done it before. He’s been with back-to-back winning organizations. His experience is remarkable and he’s a competitor. He made me well known that winning organizations is paramount to him.
“That’s why I feel so aligned with him. I talk about that all the time and he talked about it in our first conversation and he’s doing this job. That’s what you want to hear when you’re in my chair.”
The Tigers will introduce Harris to a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday