"I'm very excited for this opportunity, and honored and grateful to Mr. Ilitch for having the faith and trust in me to run the ballclub in our continuing pursuit of a World Series championship," said Avila. "After 24 years in professional baseball and 14 with the Detroit Tigers, I believe I'm uniquely qualified to be successful in this role in leading this organization. We're confident we can make a strong push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come."
Avila Played Key Role Securing Talent Such as Miguel Cabrera, Livan Hernandez,
Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and J.D. Martinez
Avila, 57, brings a wealth of baseball experience to the Tigers' general manager position, including the last 24 years at the Major League level. In June 1992, he joined the Florida Marlins as the assistant director of Latin American operations after a four-year stint as the director of athletics and head coach of the baseball team at St. Thomas (FL) University.
After just two seasons with the Marlins, he was promoted to director of Latin American operations and while in that position, Avila played an integral role in the signing of Livan Hernandez, the 1997 National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player during Florida's title run. In 1998, he earned a promotion to director of amateur and international scouting for the Marlins and just one season later, on the international front, helped sign 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera in 1999, who debuted in the major leagues in 2003 and hit four home runs during Florida's second championship run.
Avila's astute talent evaluation also landed the Marlins elite players through baseball's annual amateur draft, including 2003 World Series MVP pitcher Josh Beckett (1999; first round) and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (2000; first round), today widely considered one of the top hitters in Major League Baseball. His influence also persuaded several other players to join the Marlins organization, including infielders Luis Castillo and Alex Gonzalez, each of whom played significant roles in the Marlins winning world championships in 1997 and 2003.
In July 2001, Avila was again promoted by the Marlins to vice president and assistant general manager. He would serve as Florida's interim general manager later that year before leaving the Marlins after nine seasons to accept a position as special assistant to the general manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002. After just three months with the Pirates, Avila would depart the Steel City for the Motor City and join the Tigers' front office in the same role. Over his 14 seasons in Detroit, Avila has assisted in player development, overseen the amateur and international scouting staffs, and has been instrumental in the day-to-day formation of the club's roster through signings, trades and major personnel decisions. He played an integral role in the trade that brought two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera to Detroit in December 2007. He was also highly influential in Cabrera inking a long-term extension to stay with the team in 2014. Avila's familiarity with current Tigers All-Star outfielder J.D. Martinez led to the club signing Martinez upon his release from the Houston Astros in March 2014.
"Al Avila is a true baseball man," Ilitch added. "He's been involved in every facet of the game as a college head coach, scout and executive. His track record in identifying and developing talent is extremely impressive. I'm confident that Al will bring his own approach and his own style to the general manager position. He's worked extremely hard over the course of his career to afford himself this opportunity with the Detroit Tigers."
Avila comes from a deep-rooted baseball family. His father, Ralph Avila, was a longtime scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and retired as a vice president. Ralph's career contributions to the game of baseball are recognized at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Al's son, Alex, is a catcher for the Tigers. Al and his wife, Yamile, have two other children, Alan and Annelisa Marie.