The Phillies are on the “verge” of hiring two-time World Series winner Dave Dombrowski to be their next president of baseball operations, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported Thursday.
Philadelphia demoted previous GM Matt Klentak in October after he failed to get the team to the playoffs during his five years at the helm. The Phillies haven’t made the postseason since 2011, a streak of nine straight years without a playoff berth that marks the longest drought in the National League. With Dombrowski at the helm, expectations would be even higher.
Dombrowski was last seen in the major leagues winning the 2018 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. He previously spent 14 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, making the playoffs five times and the World Series twice — though those stacked Tigers teams were never able to go all the way. Dombrowski’s first championship came with the Florida Marlins in 1997, four years after their expansion.
The hire comes as a bit of a surprise after Dombrowski told The Athletic in November that he was committed to building a team in Nashville, a city MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has mentioned as a possible candidate for a future expansion team. However, Stark reports that Phillies owner John Middleton made the pitch to Dombrowski himself after two candidates (Twins’ Thad Levine and the Dodgers’ Josh Byrnes) withdrew their names from consideration.
The Phillies are in the midst of an important offseason, one where they must determine the direction for their franchise after a lengthy rebuild produced few capable major league players. Philadelphia is reportedly planning to cut back on spending this offseason following significant financial losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hiring Dombrowski is a signal that the organization plans to win now with little regard for what happens after that. The veteran exec has a reputation for leaving franchises in disarray after winning titles, as evidenced by the rebuilds Detroit and Boston went into after he departed each team.
But with Bryce Harper two seasons into his 13-year, $330 million contract, the Phillies have not produced the results their fan base demands. Middleton has stepped in and secured his man in Dombrowski with the hope of salvaging their current core and shaping it into a playoff team.
Now, it'll be on Dombrowski to figure out how to make that happen.