Will he or won’t he? Will he stay or will he go? Will they stay put or will they sell?
To whom am I referring? Actually, all of these questions could be applied to Chris, Al, Brad and the entire roster. And it’s all because things are starting to get complicated with this team. Some of it their own doing, some of it not.
The calls for the heads of our GM and manager are getting louder. Fans have become disappointed and gotten tired of waiting. And if you read the social media threads, more and more are indicating that they will go on an extended vay-cay if changes aren’t made, especially when it comes to the longevity of a certain GM and manager.
But will keeping Avila and Ausmus send a message that the Ilitch family is happy with their performances? Maybe not.
Because the decision to keep them may be based entirely on something else. And it involves the potential sale of the team.
You won’t read about it in the local papers but the financial ones are providing evidence that ownership is exploring options. And during one of the recent telecasts, the broadcasters showed footage of Steve Greenberg visiting his father’s statue at Comerica. What they didn’t mention, and what they may not know, is that Greenberg was in Detroit for board meetings.
Steve is a dealmaker, specializing in the buying and selling of sports teams. And he’s been a long-term advisor to the Ilitch family.
Let’s save the discussion about the rationale for selling the team for another day. What’s important here is to understand that decisions about all Tigers personnel will be based, in part, upon the possibility of a sale.
If the team goes on the market, don’t expect to hear about it. Or see it advertised on Craigslist. And it definitely won’t happen during the baseball season. That’s the quickest way to destabilize an organization and send fans fleeing towards the exits.
In all likelihood, Ilitch Holdings is going to wait until the sale of the Marlins is finalized so they can use that information to bolster their asking price.
But if the team is going to be sold, Chris Ilitch has to enhance its perceived value. Homes that are being prepped for sale use stagers and selling a baseball team is no different. Things need to be put in order so that the team is framed correctly in order to attract the highest bidder.
Obviously, part of that revolves around paring down payroll. But also, having minimal contract commitments. Any new owner doesn’t want to be tied down with people they didn’t hire. And they certainly don’t want to have to pay out on existing contracts when they decide to bring in their own replacements.
Which is why a potential sale will partially impact whether Brad stays or goes. Whether his contract expires or is extended for another year. Whether anything longer than a single year will also tell us about Chris’ intention towards keeping the team.
As for Al Avila, his contract runs through 2020. Not known is whether there is a clause that addresses contractual obligation in case of a sale.
Will there be any management departures before the end of the 2017 season? Highly improbable. Firings tend to destabilize an organization on a short-term basis and if the Tigers are indeed going into sell mode, it may impact their asking price. Timing is everything.
On Sunday, join us for It’s Complicated, Part 2. when we delve further into the issues surrounding the future of the manager and why the timing of a potential sell-off is more important than we may think.