Tracy Ringolsby

Dombrowski's next MLB job a matter of 'when'

After parting ways with Tigers, former GM likely seeking to elevate position with another team

Dombrowski's next MLB job a matter of 'when'

Dave Dombrowski got a head start on his job hunting. Once he finished revamping the Tigers, filling voids in the farm system with a series of trades over the final week of July, he packed up his office at Comerica Park and bid the franchise adieu after nearly 14 years of overseeing Detroit's front office.

The move was announced as the Tigers "releasing Dombrowski" from his contract -- which was a diplomatic way of saying there was two months remaining on his contract and there hadn't even been a hint of a discussion of a new deal, so might as well allow both sides to move on.

Dombrowski: Tigers wanted a new direction

Five postseason appearances, and division titles in each of the past four years were impressive, but there has not been any celebration for the Tigers following the final game of the baseball season since 1984. All the other hardware is nice, but it is that World Series championship trophy that motivates Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

The Tigers acted quickly. Al Avila, Dombrowski's longtime top aide, was given a five-year deal to take over as general manager.

Avila relishes opportunity as new Tigers GM

Don't expect Dombrowski to wait around very long, either. The biggest obstacle he will face is deciding which job he wants.

There are two that stand out: the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays are looking for a club president, not just a president of baseball operations, and the Red Sox, who are promoting Sam Kennedy to club president, haven't made a decision on how the CEO role will be filled after president/CEO Larry Lucchino announced that he is stepping down. 

After having overseen the baseball operations in Montreal, Florida and Detroit, the feeling of those who know Dombrowski well is that he is eager to take the next step up.

Both the Red Sox and Blue Jays play in cultural metropolitan areas, which appeals to the Dombrowski family.

Dombrowski is highly regarded in ownership circles for his ability to see the big picture, and he actually had some support among owners when the replacement for Bud Selig was being selected.

And Dombrowski does have strong personal ties with both organizations. He was, after all, the president/general manager of the Marlins before taking the Tigers job, and the owner of the franchise was John Henry, now the majority owner of the Red Sox. Was it just a coincidence that Dombrowski left the beaches of Miami for Detroit a matter of months before Henry became the owner of the Red Sox?

Yeah, right. Blink. Blink.

Dombrowski never worked for the Blue Jays' owners before, but he did get his start in baseball working for the White Sox and owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who is a confidant of outgoing Blue Jays president Paul Beeston. And in addition to having the respect of Beeston, Dombrowski has the respect of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

Beck on Dombrowski's release

The challenge in Toronto could be enticing for Dombrowski in light of the fact that ownership not only wants a championship, but when it recruited the late Keli McGregor, who at the time was president of the Rockies, part of the package was for him to also spearhead bringing an NFL team to Toronto. McGregor turned down a lucrative multiyear offer to remain in his native Colorado with the Rockies for family reasons.

Dombrowski doesn't have as high profile an athletic background as McGregor -- who was an All-American football player at Colorado State, and before taking control of the Rockies spent time in the NFL before doing some college coaching and serving as the assistant athletic director of the University of Arkansas.

Dombrowski does, however, have a solid resume in baseball, where at the age of 31 he became general manager of the Expos, and despite financial challenges and fan indifference oversaw the building of one of the game's strongest farm systems. He left Montreal for the challenge of becoming the first general manager of the expansion Marlins, and given the green light from owner H. Wayne Huizenga to spend what it took to win a World Series, he had a chance to celebrate the team's 1997 championship -- in only its fifth year of existence.

The celebration, however, didn't last long. The morning that the championship parade was held in South Florida, Huizenga ordered a dismantling of the franchise. It wasn't long after that, though, that Huizenga himself stepped aside and Henry entered into ownership.

Jim Duquette on Tigers GM move

There will be other opportunities for Dombrowski at the general manager level, including the Angels, who in the aftermath of Jerry Dipoto's midseason resignation brought back Bill Stoneman on an interim basis to oversee the hiring of a full-time replacement for Dipoto.

It's worth noting that Stoneman was the man in Montreal who stepped aside as general manager and promoted his young Minor League director named Dombrowski as his replacement.

The time may have come for Dombrowski and the Tigers to part ways. Baseball, however, isn't ready to turn its back on the man.

It will be up to Dombrowski to decide where and in what role he will serve the game in the future.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.