Dombrowski shares TSN Executive of the Year award
News out of the General Managers meetings in Milwaukee tonight includes a headline for Dave Dombrowski that doesn’t involve a trade or a signing. The Tigers CEO/president/general manager has been named a co-winner of this year’s Sporting News Executive of the Year Award, sharing the honor with Brewers GM Doug Melvin.
It’s the first tie since the award began in 1936. It was decided by votes of 55 Major League front-office members, with Dombrowski and Melvin earning 13 votes each.
Amazingly for somebody with more than 20 years as a GM, Dombrowski is a first-time winner. Minnesota’s Terry Ryan beat him out in 2006, when the Tigers went to the World Series. Pittsburgh’s Cam Bonifay won it in 1997, when Dombrowski’s Florida Marlins won a world championship.
Those were two wild card teams in two different stages of construction. This year, Detroit’s first division title since 1987 — and the late-season charge with a trade-bolstered roster that earned it for them — was the right situation for Dombrowski to earn some recognition.
Dombrowski already had credit for one of the best free-agent signings of the offseason, wooing Victor Martinez instead of Adam Dunn. His aggressive signing of Joaquin Benoit paid dividends after early-season struggles. But he was at his best in July and August, when he swung deals for Wilson Betemit and Doug Fister around the deadline before making an under-the-radar trade for Delmon Young in mid-August.
The Fister trade in particular, especially in comparison to the Ubaldo Jimenez deal that Cleveland made around the same time, was a stunner for how well it worked out. Fister came to Detroit looking like a middle-rotation arm, but pitched like a front-liner down the stretch, especially against the Indians.
All of this happened in what began as a must-win contract year for Dombrowski, who received a four-year extension from owner Mike Ilitch in early August.
Dombrowski is just the third Tigers executive to win the award. Longtime general manager Jim Campbell won it in 1968 in the wake of the Tigers’ World Series title that fall. Former team owner Walter Briggs Sr. won it in 1940, a year the Tigers won the American League pennant.