DETROIT -- The Tigers' rebuilding project will include a change in the manager's office. Brad Ausmus will not be back as Detroit's manager next season, general manager Al Avila announced Friday afternoon.
Ausmus will finish out the season, the one-year club option on the contract he signed when he took over as the Tigers' manager in November 2013.
"He understood the reasoning, which is obvious: We didn't win," Avila said. "The organization got to a point where we needed change on the field, we needed change in the roster, and that's when we started trading players. And then the conclusion was: Let's just take a whole brand new road and open up to new things. We felt it's a new beginning, a fresh start, and we'll have fresh leadership, new leadership, as we move forward. He understood that very well."
The decision was not a surprise as the Tigers finish up what will most likely be their worst season recordwise since 2003 and embark on a rebuilding process focused on developing and promoting young players within the system rather than the veteran-laden roster that led them to four consecutive American League Central titles. Ausmus was the manager for the last of those division crowns in 2014, then he fell just short of a Wild Card berth last year.
The other two seasons have seen the Tigers struggle and deal away veterans, culminating in the trade of franchise icon Justin Verlander to the Astros at the end of last month.
Ausmus and Avila had essentially gone year to year with his status since Avila took over as general manager in 2015 for Dave Dombrowski, who hired Ausmus. Avila announced shortly after the end of the '15 season that Ausmus would stay, then picked up the option year on Ausmus' contract shortly after last season.
"I don't have regrets. I still believe in Brad," Avila said. "I think maybe the regret is that we were not able to make enough adjustments to the club to make it better. And that's where the rebuild came in. Our payroll basically paralyzed us from making the team better."
Ausmus had been dropping hints in interviews in recent days -- even before he talked with Avila -- that he wasn't expecting to return, referring to the Tigers in the third person and taking a distant outlook on upcoming roster decisions. Avila said at the time that they hadn't discussed his situation, but that discussion soon followed.
"Al and I talked a couple days ago," Ausmus said. "Al and I have become very good friends over the four years I was here, so it was a little emotional. Quite frankly, I told him I fully understood. And I told him if he had walked in and offered me a contract, I probably wouldn't have come back, because I think this team, this organization is starting over and needed a new voice. And sometimes you have to be able to evaluate yourself. When I look in the mirror, I think it's probably a good idea that they do this."
Ausmus entered Friday's game against the Twins with a 312-325 record, including a 62-91 record this season.
The search for Ausmus' successor will begin immediately. Avila said any coaches who are interested in the job will be considered. At the same time, Avila said experience will be a key in whoever they hire.
"I would say the manager doesn't have to have managerial experience at the Major League level," Avila said, "but he certainly has to have managerial experience in the Minor Leagues or coaching experience at the Major Leagues so that the person who comes in is well-prepared in that sense."