Dombrowski: No contract disagreement, just an ownership decision
Just got off the phone with Dave Dombrowski, who’s apparently doing interviews individually after yesterday’s move by the Tigers to part ways with him. He shed some light on how things unfolded, what led up to the move and what’s next.
For starters, he said, there wasn’t a dispute over contract terms, nor was there ultimatum on his part to clear up his status. He said there weren’t any talk about a new contract or his status until he got a call from owner Mike Ilitch on Tuesday to let him go.
“It’s pretty simple,” Dombrowski said. “Mike Ilitch let me know yesterday they were going with a different leadership direction.”
The longer his situation went unresolved, he said, the more he suspected that would be the case. Still, he said, when he made last week’s trades of David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Cespedes for prospects, he did so without any idea whether he would be around to see the results.
“I didn’t make [the deals] with any expectations other than I felt it was the best thing for the organization,” he said. “My feeling in my heart was that we were not going to win a championship.”
If he knew then that this was coming, he said, he would not change a thing.
“I will always hold my head high,” he said, “that every day I did what I felt was best for the organization.”
Thus ended what turned out to be his final chance to win a World Series title for Ilitch, which will end up his biggest regret of his tenure. At the same time, he said, he leaves with plenty of memories from an organizational turnaround that saw the Tigers rise from doormat to perennial contender.
“Fourteen years is a long time,” he said, “and when you look back, there’s a lot of great memories. We started out with tough times … but we were very successful. I enjoyed my time here.”
As for the fact that his longtime top assistant, Al Avila, replaced him, Dombrowski said he’s happy that he’s getting his shot.
“I’m very happy for Al,” Dombrowski said. “He’s been very loyal. If it’s not going to be me, I’m happy it’s him.”
Dombrowski downplayed speculation that he could take assistants with him to his next stop, noting that the group of assistants he has kept together over the years has worked well together and should continue to do so under Avila. He knows a lot of people in the game, and can build a new front-office group.
On that note, he said, he does not have anything lined up, but he wants to stay involved in the game, preferably at the club level. He’s willing to take time off if the right opportunity doesn’t come up, but sounded like he’d prefer to get back to work sooner rather than later.
“I’m sure I’ll be back somewhere,” he said. “I’m not sure when that’ll be.”