Leyland, 60, who managed the Florida Marlins to the 1997 World Series championship, has not coached since 1999 when he was with Colorado. He has been a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals for the past five years.
Leyland has a career coaching record of 1,069 wins and 1,131 losses over 14 seasons. He was named the National League Manager of the Year twice with the Pittsburgh Pirates, whom he guided to three division titles from 1990-92.
Detroit fired Alan Trammell Monday, one day after the Tigers completed a disappointing regular season.
Tigers President and GM Dave Dombrowski was the Marlins' GM when Leyland won his world championship. The Tigers called Leyland on Monday morning.
Leyland will be returning to the Tigers after a 23-year absence. He was a minor-league catcher in the Detroit organization until 1970.