On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox’s president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was abruptly fired. His termination comes less than one full season after the Red Sox (76-67) were crowned the 2018 World Series champions. However, the team’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse lately, and currently sit at third place in the American League East division race. Also, they are eight games back for the second spot in the AL Wild Card race.
Hired in 2015 by team owner John Henry, Dombrowski, is given credit as being the architect of the team’s fourth championship in the last 15 years. During his tenure, the team won three consecutive division titles (2016, 2017, 2018), had one AL MVP winner (Mookie Betts 2018) and one AL Cy Young winner (Rick Porcello 2016). He also is responsible for running up the ballclub’s payroll north of the $200 million mark. The cost for an attempt to field a highly-competitive team also leaves the team well above the luxury tax threshold, as Boston faces stiff fines and penalties.
Outfielder Mookie Betts is set for a massive contract extension, as he is set to enter free agency after the 2020 season and is likely to garner $25 million or more in salary arbitration before then.
Dombrowski signed other high-price tag players including oft-injured pitcher David Price ($217MM), and pitchers Chris Sale ($145MM) and Nathan Eovaldi ($68MM) who have also spent time on the DL. Needless to say, those signings have been met with mixed reviews. Shortstop and homegrown talent Xander Bogaerts also signed six-year, $120MM deal this past spring.
For years in Boston, the cost of fielding a championship team has never been too much. After all, World Series championships are priceless. However, John Henry and the rest of the Red Sox’s brass makes a bold statement with the move. High payrolls run parallel with high expectations. After investing massive amounts of money into an on-field product that is extremely underwhelming this season, Dombrowski’s termination raises questions of whether or not the franchise’s “win now” mentality allows them long-term sustainability in a financial sense. Furthermore, the ideology of operating under the notion of an”open checkbook”, asks if it is actually healthy, fair and feasible for Major League Baseball’s low-revenue producing teams to compete in an uncapped league where there is immense pressure to produce immediate results.
Dombrowski’s resume is distinguished, as he has been successful in previous stops with the Florida Marlins (97’ World Series Winners) and the Detroit Tigers. He is an excellent team builder and certainly will have many prospective job offers this winter. Despite the healthy long-term prospects, Dave needs to learn a lesson and take a page from the Houston Astros on building a contender via the farm system by way of player development in the minor leagues.
It’s not his money, and he was reckless, point blank period. Did he really think that after signing with Boston, Henry would hand him a black card to spend foolishly without being held accountable? Nooooo sir, The 63 year-old executive has been around for a long time and knows the game from an operations perspective, yet the only thing he is failing to understand is that in today’s society you are only as good as your last championship. Unfortunately, those memories have faded and less than one year later he is now expendable and unemployed.
Header Photo Credit: CBS Sports