Leyland returning to Tigers in '09
Manager doesn't rule out staying beyond next season
DETROIT -- Jim Leyland will be back as Tigers manager next year, as expected. He hopes to be back for longer than that.
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News that Leyland will be back to manage next season, the final year of his current contract.
"Yes, oh yeah," Dombrowski told the paper. "He's under contract next year."
From that standpoint, there was no decision to be made, unless the organization had decided to buy out his final year and go in a different direction. Given the belief that Detroit has a core of quality talent to build around and has a chance to turn things around quickly, with some issues resolved, that was unlikely to happen.
Leyland has said on more than one occasion this year that he feels good and wants to keep managing.
"I expect to be back -- I want to be back," Leyland said Wednesday. "I bear as much responsibility as anybody for a disappointing season. I want to come back. I am coming back, evidently. And to be honest with you, I want to come back longer. We'll see how that plays out."
Leyland signed a three-year contract when he accepted the managerial job following the 2005 season. His contract for '09 was a one-year extension that he agreed to prior to this season. Leyland said at the time that he would prefer to go year by year on his deal, without saddling himself or the organization for the longer term.
That conversation on another extension is expected to take place again at season's end.
"I want to manage the Tigers, and I want to manage the team longer than next year," Leyland said. "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."
This season is the first with a losing record in Leyland's three years as Tigers manager. He owns a 254-227 record in Detroit through Wednesday, and he has a 1,323-1,358 record over 17 years as a Major League manager with the Tigers, Rockies, Marlins and Pirates. When he opens the '09 season on April 6 at Toronto, he'll become the longest-serving Tigers manager since Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson, who led the club for 16 seasons, which included Detroit's last World Series championship in 1984.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.