Ex-Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wins Angels' job

The Detroit News
Brad Ausmus was hired as Angels manager Sunday.

Brad Ausmus' time out of the dugout was brief.

Ausmus, fired as Tigers manager late in the 2017 season, was named manager of the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the team announced.

Ausmus spent the last season in the Angels' front office and was widely considered a manager-in-waiting, especially when word started circulating during the summer that Mike Scioscia wouldn't return.

In an interview with The News' Chris McCosky in August, Ausmus expressed a desire to manage again.

“Yeah, all along I kind of hoped I could get back in the dugout,” he said. “I took kind of a soft year, schedule-wise this year, and then I was hoping I could get back in the dugout.”

Ausmus, 49, managed the Tigers for four years, from 2014-17, and made the playoffs just once, that first year. Late in his tenure, the ballclub embarked on a deep rebuild. His record was 314-332 during the regular season, and 0-3 in the postseason — a three-game sweep by the Orioles in the 2014 ALDS.

He becomes the first former Tigers manager to get another managerial gig since Phil Garner, Detroit's manager from 2000-02 who managed the Houston Astros from 2004-07.

General manager Billy Eppler announced the hiring of Ausmus, who gets a three-year contract.

“Ultimately, Brad’s balance of connectivity, communication and leadership skills as well as his understanding of evolving strategies and probabilistic approach to decision-making led us to him,” Eppler said in a statement. “We believe his knowledge, drive and growth-mindset will allow him to integrate seamlessly with our players and staff and will be pivotal in advancing our culture and moving us toward our goals as an organization.”

Scioscia had held the job since the 2000 season, winning the Angels’ only World Series title and becoming the winningest manager in franchise history. He left the club earlier this month after 19 seasons and 1,650 victories.

The 49-year-old Ausmus likely represents a philosophical shift from Scioscia, who was widely perceived as an old-school manager despite his public embrace of new baseball mentalities. After Scioscia’s departure three weeks ago, Eppler said he wanted the Angels’ new manager to be well-versed in analytics and probability-based decision-making.

The Dartmouth graduate played 18 big league seasons with four franchises as a catcher, including 10 years with the Houston Astros and three with the Tigers before his final two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009-10. He is 11th in baseball history with 1,766 games started as a catcher, and he is third in baseball history among catchers with 12,839 putouts.

Ausmus takes charge at a key point for the big-budget Angels, who have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons and haven’t won a postseason game since 2009.

After finishing 80-82 for the second consecutive year, they are coming off three straight losing seasons for the first time since 1992-94. Los Angeles has played only three postseason games in the past nine seasons, losing them all to the Kansas City Royals in 2014 after winning the AL West.

Mike Trout has two seasons remaining on his current contract, and the Angels likely need to build a championship contender to keep their franchise player happy. Ausmus also must lead the Angels’ efforts to maximize the success of Shohei Ohtani, who won’t pitch next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

And Ausmus must maximize the effectiveness of slugger Albert Pujols, who will be 39 years old when he returns next year for the eighth season of his massive 10-year contract.

Ausmus’ Angels will have the benefit of a farm system that has improved markedly during Eppler’s three seasons in charge.

Ausmus also interviewed for the opening with the Cincinnati Reds, who on Sunday hired David Bell, the son of former Tigers manager Buddy Bell.

Other teams with openings: the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.