Grifol impresses in Tigers interview (sources)

October 18th, 2020

Pedro Grifol has emerged as one of the top candidates to become the next manager of the Detroit Tigers.

Grifol, the Kansas City Royals bench coach, already has interviewed with the Tigers, and multiple sources said the 50-year-old made a strong impression on team officials. Detroit has not confirmed the interview.

The Tigers will wait until after the World Series to make any decisions, but Grifol has advanced into the top tier of candidates in Detroit for a number of reasons.

Tigers general manager Al Avila has known Grifol for more than 30 years, dating back to Grifol’s standout playing career at Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School. Avila was a baseball coach at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens during the late 1980s, and Avila became familiar with Grifol through amateur baseball in South Florida at that time.

Avila also considered Grifol for the Tigers’ managerial opening in the fall of 2017, before hiring Ron Gardenhire. The Tigers have watched Grifol assume greater responsibilities with a division rival over the past several years, working as Royals manager Mike Matheny’s bench coach in '20 after previous roles as a quality control, catching and hitting coach.

Grifol, who is Cuban-American and bilingual, is regarded as an exceptional communicator, dating back to his time as a Minor League manager with the Seattle Mariners. He also possesses the front office experience many teams find appealing in managerial candidates, having worked as the Mariners’ director of Minor League operations from 2008-11.

Grifol was a finalist for the San Francisco Giants’ managerial job last offseason, before Giants GM Farhan Zaidi hired Gabe Kapler, with whom Zaidi had worked in the Dodgers’ front office.

“He was a great candidate,” Zaidi said of Grifol, in a 2019 interview with Lynn Worthy of The Kansas City Star. “Just you get into these processes and there’s a lot of really good candidates and there’s really tough decisions. He was a guy that was involved in our process for multiple rounds, which I think speaks to how highly we thought of him.”

Zaidi, known for his data-driven approach, told Worthy that Grifol was “really proficient” in his statistical understanding of players.

“Just from having met him and spent time with him, I really hope he gets the opportunity because I think he would be terrific,” Zaidi told Worthy.