Red Sox introduce respected front-office vet as president of baseball operations
By Ian Browne
BOSTON -- With his decades of accomplishments in front offices well documented, Dave Dombrowski was going to have choices for where to continue his career. The Red Sox won out in large part because of who their principal owner is, and also their prestige as a franchise.
When John Henry took over primary ownership of the Marlins in 1998, he did so only after getting assurances that Dombrowski would stay on as GM.
Fifteen years ago, when Henry sold the Marlins so he could purchase the Red Sox, he encouraged Dombrowski to pursue other opportunities as well -- to join an organization with greater resources. Dombrowski found that with the Tigers and helped lead the club to American League pennants in 2006 and '12. Meanwhile, the Red Sox under Henry won the World Series three times -- in 2004, '07 and '13.
All these years later, the two men found it to be the perfect time for a reunion.
"For me, having done this a long time, I think my relationship with ownership is as important as anything," said Dombrowski. "And not that John isn't going to get mad at me at times, because he has that right to do it, and [chariman] Tom [Werner], too. But I think it's a situation where having a comfort zone to work with people you really enjoy working with, that you're driven to do the same thing, that is where it starts.
"Let's just say this is a storied franchise, which it is, but if you didn't have people that you have that same confidence and trust in, well, it may not be as appealing as it would be with John in that position."
At the outset of Wednesday's news conference to introduce Dombrowski as the Red Sox's president of baseball operations, Henry spoke glowingly about his time with Dombrowski in Florida.
Dombrowski had led the Marlins to a World Series title in 1997, but former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga had the club part with virtually all of the key players from that team via trade. When Henry took over, Dombrowski executed moves that helped lead the Marlins' next championship in 2003, even though both men weren't with that franchise anymore to enjoy the fruits of that labor.
"His first trade under my ownership was acquiring Mike Lowell from the Yankees for three starting pitchers who ended up starting a total of six games in the Majors," said Henry. "Mike had almost 1,500 starts. With that, Dave began an ambitious build for a championship. A few months later, he signed 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera and a high school pitcher named Josh Beckett."
Dombrowski's energy and passion for team building -- even at the age of 59 -- was demonstrated by his willingness to jump into the trenches so quickly with the Red Sox. It was just two weeks ago that he left his last job as Tigers president/CEO and GM.
"They basically asked me, 'Well, when do you think you'd be ready if we offered you the job and what would be the most opportune time to start?' I basically thought probably the sooner, the better because it gives you a pulse of what's taking place the rest of the year and you can move forward from there," said Dombrowski.
With Boston, Dombrowski assumes responsibility for all baseball-operation matters effective immediately, and he will report directly to Henry and Werner. Dombrowski will soon hire a GM, after Ben Cherington declined the chance to remain in his post.
"You look at the ballclub, it's a situation where there's a lot of great young talent breaking in at the Major League level at this time," Dombrowski said. "The Minor League system has a lot of talent also. When you start looking at opportunities that come around, there aren't many opportunities like this that exist. ... It's a great opportunity."
The Red Sox hope that Wednesday represents the beginning of their return as an elite team.
"Today is about the future of the Boston Red Sox," Henry said. "We have a history of success over the last 14 years characterized by a certain boldness and purpose. That's very much alive here today."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.