In a statement released Tuesday by Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski has been relieved of his duties as president and general manager of the Tigers after 14 years with the team.
Dombrowski signed a four-year extension with the Tigers back in 2011, and was not under contract for the 2016 season.
Taking over for Dombrowski will be longtime assistant general manger Al Avila. Avila has served in MLB front offices for the past 24 years, 14 of them with the Tigers.
“I would like to thank Dave Dombrowski for his 14 years of service,” Ilitch said in Tuesday’s statement. “Together we’ve enjoyed some success, but we’re still in aggressive pursuit of our ultimate goal; to bring a World Series title to Detroit and Michigan. I’ve decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities. I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership.”
With Dombrowski at the helm, the Tigers went from an embarrassment of an organization to one of the best and most respected teams in Major League Baseball. Detroit made two World Series in 2006 and 2012, losing both and were eliminated in the American League Championship Series in 2011 and 2013. Last season, the Tigers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the Division Series.
With all the success Dombrowski has brought the Tigers, he has also brought the team a lot of misfortune. In 2012, Dombrowski overpaid for Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder, giving the first basemen a nine-year, $214 million deal, that ultimately saw him in another jersey, Texas Rangers, a few seasons later.
In 2013, the Tigers traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-hander Ian Krol and minor league lefty Robbie Ray. Ray and Lombardozzi are no longer with the team and Krol has made appearances out of the Tigers bullpen, but has not established himself as a reliable relief pitcher.
Prior to the 2014 season, the Tigers offered Max Scherzer a six-year, $144 million contract, a contract that Scherzer declined and left for more money in Washington once he hit free agency. According to Deadspin.com, the Tigers had the fourth-highest payroll in the MLB entering the 2015 season, leading most people to believe that they should have tried harder to re-sign Scherzer.
With these deals all said and done, the Tigers went from having one of the best rotations in baseball to praying for rain so no one other than Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez have to start.
Maybe it is time for the Tigers to move on. Ilitch, who is 86 years-old, wants to bring a championship to Detroit more than anything. Even with all the money in the world, Dombrowski was unable to bring him one, maybe the next man will.