As recently as Sunday night, in the wake of being swept out of the World Series by the Giants, Leyland talked about his future as nothing definite. He made it clear weeks ago he wanted to continue managing, and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said after the Tigers' win in the American League Championship Series a week and a half ago that he was welcome back.
"I think he's reached that point in his career. I think it's understandable. It's a grueling job," Dombrowski said about Leyland taking his time to decide. "That's not an easy job. And you need to analyze on a year-in, year-out basis. But there's no question he has the energy, he wants to do this."
"Dave told me that they absolutely wanted me, that [Tigers owner Mike] Ilitch absolutely wanted me," Leyland said about what factored into his decision. "I thought long and hard about it. I wanted to manage, but I did think long and hard about it."
Dombrowski said at the time that Leyland didn't want his situation to be a distraction, which is why they waited until season's end. That didn't stop the speculation, including the status of Leyland's coaching staff.
In the end, Leyland's entire staff was invited back. That includes Toby Harrah, whose title as assistant hitting coach was made official. Harrah had been the Tigers' Minor League hitting instructor before joining the big league club in June.
However, both Dombrowski and Leyland hinted the coaches' duties would be shuffled, although they weren't ready to release more information.
"All the coaches are going to be back, but we may redirect a couple of things, but I'm not willing to respond on that just yet," Leyland said. "There's a possibility we'll rearrange the furniture a little bit, but everybody's going to be back."
Leyland is the longest-tenured active manager in the Majors, having managed 21 seasons in the big leagues. Detroit's second straight AL Central title this year made Leyland just the second manager to lead the Tigers to three postseason berths, putting his name alongside Hughie Jennings.
Leyland's 1,676-1,659 career record puts him 15th on the all-time Major League wins list and first among active managers. That includes a 607-528 record over seven seasons with the Tigers. Only Jennings and Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson have more wins with the Tigers.