Detroit Tigers finalizing deal to make AJ Hinch next manager

Former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch may have another chance to get back on the bench relatively soon.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Hinch is in the process of finalizing a deal to become the next manager of the Detroit Tigers.

That should come as no surprise, as Olney reported earlier Thursday evening that Hinch was the favorite for the job, which opened up after the retirement of Ron Gardenhire

The 46-year-old was thought of as a candidate to land the Chicago White Sox job before the team announced Tony La Russa on Thursday.

Hinch, who was suspended for the 2020 season and subsequently fired by the Astros following an MLB investigation into electronic sign-stealing, was reinstated following the conclusion of the World Series. He's now free to join any club.

Should he choose the Tigers, he'll have arguably a bigger challenge than when he took over in Houston.

Hinch won at least 84 matches in each of his first two seasons with the Astros. The Tigers haven't won more than 80 games since 2016. What Detroit does have, however, is a stable of young pitchers and position players ready to continue developing in the major leagues.

Led by Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matthew Boyd and Matt Manning the Tigers' starting rotation of the future has as much potential as any in baseball. Corner infieldeer Spencer Torkelson is rated the No. 4 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline while outfielder Riley Greene lands at No. 25 on the Top 100.

Yet the American League Central isn't exactly up for grabs just yet.

Both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins have seen their teams develop into strong title competitors while the Cleveland Indians remain a threat even as they continue to retool their roster.

That would seemingly give Hinch a bit longer of a leash to work with as the Tigers rebuild. Whether or not he's up for the task is the biggest question remaining.