Leyland's contract status unchanged
Tigers skipper to return in 2009 for final contracted season
Jim Leyland won't just be managing the Tigers for a rebound season and postseason berth next year. He will apparently be managing for another contract.
With a flurry of changes already beginning in Detroit after a disappointing 74-88 season, Leyland's contract status will go unchanged. Leyland told WJR-AM's Mitch Albom Show on Tuesday that he will not receive a contract extension for 2010 this offseason.
The news sets up the scenario that Leyland will be back for in 2009 with his current contract in its final season.
Both Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski had hinted as much as the season came to an end. When asked about Leyland and any contract talks, Dombrowski simply referred to Leyland's current status.
"At this time, he's signed for 2009," Dombrowski said on Monday.
Leyland said in the season's final couple of days that he knew his situation, but declined to go into details.
The Tigers' World Series hopes this season fell apart, leaving the team in last place in the American League Central for the first time since Detroit's 119-loss 2003 season.
Leyland is under contract for next season, thanks to a one-year extension he signed near the end of 2007. At the time, the Tigers had interest in a long-term extension, but Leyland said that he preferred to go year to year so as not to put the team or himself in a contractual bind.
When he discussed his status last week, he said he wanted to manage well beyond next year, pointing out that the struggles of this season haven't affected his passion for the job.
"I want to manage the Tigers and I want to manage the team longer than next year," Leyland told MLB.com last Wednesday. "That's their decision, [owner Mike] Ilitch and Dave's decision. I just don't want to give anybody the impression that I'm tired or don't want to manage the club, because I want to manage it a lot longer. And I have indicated to Dave that I want to manage longer."
In the same interview, he seemed to anticipate that this situation could occur. He was prepared for the possibility that he might not get the extension that he had hoped to get, and he made a point that his managerial style wouldn't change if that was the case.
"I'm not going to change anything, whether I get an extension or not," Leyland said last week. "I'm going to try to manage the best I can. I'm going to work as hard as I can. Dave knows what he's got.
"If I'm not wanted, I'm not wanted. That's their right. Whatever it is, it is. If he gives me an extension, I'll be happy to accept it. If he doesn't, I'll go into next year, work my tail off like I always do, and try to manage to the best of my ability. And at the end of next year, if they think it's worth having me, I'm sure they'll sign me. If it's not, they'll get somebody else. It's pretty simple, really."
Like Leyland, his coaching staff is under contract for one more year. So were pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones, who were dismissed on Sunday. It remains to be seen how Leyland's one-year status affects the search for a new pitching coach.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.