The Phillies have hired Dave Dombrowski as their president of baseball operations, filling the chief executive role that had been vacant since the team reassigned general manager Matt Klentak following the season:
The Phillies have hired longtime major league executive David Dombrowski as the club’s first-ever president of baseball operations. pic.twitter.com/8lqlw48Yzt— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) December 11, 2020
Dombrowski, 64, has been successful during every one of his four previous stints as a head of baseball operations, though his “pedal to the metal” approach has frustrated ownership. Dombrowski has often spent big to retain and add players and has been willing to deal top prospects to acquire proven talent. While fans should be pumped to have an executive who takes that approach, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to stomach for owners who want to keep costs to a minimum. It’ll be interesting to see what Dombrowski is able to do with a team that’s largely already been built that way under Klentak’s watch (and presumably due to the meddling of owner John Middleton), as Philadelphia’s farm system has been depleted in recent years, and the budget is perhaps already close to maxed out with Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and Aaron Nola all making eight figures annually.
After assisting in the White Sox and Expos front offices, Dombrowski became Montreal’s GM midway through the 1988 season. They finished .500 in ‘88 and ‘89 and had a winning season (85-77) in 1990 before struggling to a 71-90 record in ‘91. Dombrowski jumped ship late in that season to become the first-ever GM of the Marlins, and while the expansion team predictably struggled during its early years, it became a force to be reckoned with by its fifth season of existence and won the World Series in 1997. Unfortunately for Dombrowski, owner Wayne Huizenga mandated a firesale following the franchise’s first championship, and the team didn’t have another winning season under his watch (though the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, two years after his departure, largely with players he had acquired).
In 2002, Dombrowski took over a Tigers franchise that was in shambles and hadn’t had a winning season since 1993. While the early years were extremely rough — the Tigers lost 119 games in 2003, one short of the MLB record — he quickly turned them into a perennial contender, and they finished .500 or better in eight of nine seasons from 2006-14 and reached the World Series in 2006 and 2012 (losing both times).
Dombrowski was let go by the Tigers in August 2015 and was hired by the Red Sox 14 days later. He acquired impact player such as David Price, Chris Sale, and J.D. Martinez, and Boston won at least 93 games in each of his three full seasons as president of baseball operations, going 108-54 and winning the World Series in 2018. As the Red Sox became more budget-conscious and sought a bit of a reset the next season, they fired Dombrowski less than a year after leading them to a championship.
Dombrowski has not yet determined whether he will hire a general manager to work under him in Philadelphia — other than his first full season in Boston, when Mike Hazen was his GM before leaving to run the Diamondbacks, Dombrowski has filled both the president and general manager positions with both the Tigers and Red Sox.