Rebuilding Tigers give GM Avila extension

The Detroit Tigers have given general manager Al Avila a multiyear extension, they announced Friday. His contract had been set to expire after next season.

The Tigers are currently 28-54, the third-worst record in baseball behind the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, and entered Friday on pace for 107 losses. They have lost 98 games each of the past two seasons.

"It's clear to anyone that follows Tiger baseball that our organization is undergoing a significant transformation," CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement. "I've been impressed with Al's leadership and focus, and the steadfast way he has led our baseball operations since becoming general manager.

"I am especially pleased with the progress we have made in securing a stable of talented prospects, which bodes well for our future. Al has a proven track record in this game, and his nearly three decades of experience is paying dividends in this rebuilding phase."

Avila, who worked as an assistant to Dave Dombrowski from 2002 until replacing him after the 2015 trading deadline, has been overseeing a complete rebuild of the roster he inherited. Under Dombrowski, the team won two American League pennants and four consecutive American League Central titles from 2011-14.

Dombrowski started the rebuilding process, trading David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes in 2015, but it accelerated under Avila.

The biggest deals came in 2017, when he shipped off Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez for a group of prospects. Verlander and Martinez have each won World Series titles since leaving, while the Tigers lost 98 games in both 2017 and 2018.

"You start and there's a fast pace to it,'' Avila said. "At the end, when you start seeing it all come together, you can see the light. But right now, in the middle, it's like the darkest hour. That's what we're going through right now."

The Tigers have also gone through an unproductive decade of player development. Since 2009, they have drafted only two players who went on to an All-Star Game and both -- Corey Knebel and James McCann -- did it for other teams.

The most recent Tigers draft pick to represent them in the All-Star Game was Avila's son, Alex, who was drafted in 2008.

Avila is the first Cuban-born GM in Major League Baseball history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.