Baltimore, Maryland – There was definitely a spring in manager AJ Hinch’s approach here on Monday. He had known for a few weeks that in all likelihood Tigers president and CEO Christopher Ilitch was going to hire San Francisco Giants general manager Scott Harris as president of baseball operations for the Tigers.
And finally, he could take 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 around so many successful teams and people. I think he’s going to do it his way and he’s going to have a lot of information for us to move forward on what we need to do to become a winning organization again.
“He’s into it and I love how he told me that at the start of our relationship.”
After: What they’re saying: Tigers hire Scott Harris as president of baseball operations
Harris, 36, had served as the Giants’ general manager for three seasons after serving in multiple roles in the Cubs’ baseball operations department for seven years 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 founding members 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 throughout the interview process.”
The Cubs played in the playoffs for four straight years during his tenure and won the 2018 World Series and the Giants set a franchise record with 107 wins last season.
“Chris (Ilyitch) did incredibly thorough research,” Hinch said. “He was tireless in trying to find our next leader and he landed an exceptional person, a deep thinker and an accomplished guy.
“I just believe in him. It’s a good result for our organization and I can’t wait to do my part.”
Harris replaces Al Avila, who was fired Aug. 10 after serving as president of baseball operations and general manager. It is unclear if 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 with the Baltimore club.
“(Harris) knows the good things 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 who will walk through a wall for him. And I am one of them.
“We’re going to do our part to bring Detroit fans what they deserve – and that’s a winning franchise.”
Since the beginning of the reconstruction in 2017, the Tigers have steadily built the infrastructure, especially in terms of player development. Millions of dollars have been spent upgrading facilities and technology, creating an analytical database and service virtually from scratch.
Maybe they haven’t fully caught up with the Dodgers’ tastes in this regard, but Harris doesn’t exactly go into the closets naked.
“When you have an organization that’s stumbled for a few years and hasn’t quite found its footing, it’s easy to assume that all is not 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 one, will run through a wall for him.”
So far, the Tigers always seemed to have one foot planted in the traditional way and one foot in the new school of baseball operations. With Harris on board now, both feet move in the same progressive direction.
“Scott is a difference maker, innovator and fierce competitor, always looking for an edge,” Ilitch said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome Scott and his fiancee, Elle, to the Tigers family, and look forward to a bright future for our organization.”
Hinch has met and spoken to Harris often over the past two weeks. Before that, he only knew him casually. 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 made it perfectly clear. He’s done it before. He’s been with back-to-back winning organizations. His experience is outstanding and he’s a competitor. He told me. made it clear that winning is a priority for him.
“That’s why I feel so in tune with him. I talk about it all the time and he talked about it in our first conversation when he’s pursuing this work. It’s what you want to hear when you’re at my place.”
The Tigers will feature Harris at a press conference Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.