Al Avila

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Alberto E. Avila

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Biographical Information[edit]

Al Avila has been a player, coach and General Manager. He is the son of scout Ralph Avila, the father of catcher Alex Avila and the uncle of minor leaguer Nick Avila.

Al was 1 for 2 for the 1977 Lethbridge Dodgers; he had 5 putouts and 2 passed balls. That was his only playing time as a pro. He was GM of the 1987 Daytona Beach Admirals. He was head coach of St. Thomas University from 1989-1992 and was named Florida Sun Conference Coach of the Year in 1991. He then joined the expansion Florida Marlins as assistant director of Latin American operations in June 1992; they promoted him to head of that department in 1994. In 1998, he became the Marlins' Scouting Director. He was instrumental in signing a 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera, who would become one of the greatest players of his generation. He was the Marlins' interim GM for part of 2001. In 2002, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates as special assistant to the GM. He only was with them for three months before moving to the Detroit Tigers as special assistant to the GM. During his long tenure with the Tigers, he was often mentioned as a candidate for a General Manager job with another team, but the Tigers did not want to lose his talents and as a result did not give other teams permission to interview him after 2005. In the end, he was the beneficiary of an internal promotion.

After serving as Dave Dombrowski's assistant for over a decade Avila was named his replacement after Dombrowski was fired by the Tigers on August 4, 2015, with the title of Executive Vice-President for baseball operations (Dombrowski had the title of President). Dombrowski had just completed three trades of veterans for prospects at the trading deadline, after realizing that his aging team was not going to compete that season. Avila's mandate was now to rebuild a winner. He went at it aggressively following the Tigers' last-place finish in 2015, signing a couple of marquee free agents in P Jordan Zimmermann and OF Justin Upton, trading for closer Francisco Rodriguez and CF Cameron Maybin, and also adding depth with Ps Mike Pelfrey, Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe, IF Mike Aviles and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia. More importantly, this was done without touching Detroit's core players: 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Victor Martinez, OF J.D. Martinez, 2B Ian Kinsler and P Justin Verlander. He put sentimentality aside and let go his son Alex, as James McCann had emerged as the club's catcher of the future in 2015 and there was no room on the team for the veteran backstop.

However, that core was simply getting too old for Detroit to remain competitive much longer, and by the middle of 2017, a full rebuilding was on, with J.D. Martinez, Upton and Verlander all being traded for prospects. Kinsler followed suit after the season, and while Victor Martinez and Cabrera were still around, the veteran DH announced that 2018 would be his last season, while Cabrera missed most of the season after a fast due to an injury, and it was clear he would no longer be the centerpiece of the team going forward. The Tigers had plenty of high draft choices over the next few years, including the first overall picks in 2018 (Casey Mize) and 2020 (Spencer Torkelson) but could not get out of the doldrums, and in 2022, Avila was fired on August 10th, with assistant GM Sam Menzin taking over the job on an interim basis.

Preceded by
Dave Dombrowski
Detroit Tigers General Manager
Succeeded by
Sam Menzin

Main Source: 2012 Tigers Media Guide

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jack Baer: "Tigers fire GM Al Avila amid stalled-out rebuild", Yahoo! Sports, August 10, 2022. [1]
  • Jason Beck: "Avila relishes opportunity as new Tigers GM",, August 4, 2015. [2]
  • Jason Beck: "Well-rounded Avila defined by formative years",, December 11, 2017. [3]
  • Kevin Bull: "Tigers' Avila had been up for other GM jobs before", Detroit Free Press, August 4, 2015. [4]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Detroit Tigers' GM Al Avila on rebuild: 'We’re going to get this done'", Detroit Free Press, August 19, 2018. [5]
  • Richard Justice: "Upton deal caps fruitful offseason for Detroit",, January 19, 2016. [6]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Dave Dombrowski, Al Avila: Friendship scarred, not ruined, by awkward transition to Tigers GM", USA Today Sports, March 14, 2016. [7]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "For Al and Alex Avila, business side of baseball separates them again", USA Today Sports, February 24, 2016. [8]

Related Sites[edit]