BOSTON — Dave Dombrowski built World Series champions in Florida and Boston in a 40-year career in baseball and helped the Detroit Tigers win two AL pennants.
He’s also pretty experienced at what happens after that.
The Red Sox parted ways with Dombrowski shortly after midnight Monday, less than a year after winning the World Series and setting a team record for victories. In three years as president of baseball operations, he took the club from back-to-back last-place finishes to three straight AL East titles.
Boston’s reign as division champs could end as soon as Monday night with a loss to the New York Yankees in the series finale.
"Four years ago, we were faced with a critical decision about the direction of the franchise," Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement Monday. "With a World Series championship and three consecutive American League East titles, he has cemented what was already a Hall of Fame career."
The team said in its statement that a search for a replacement "will begin immediately." In the meantime, the department will be led by three people: assistant GMs Brian O’Halloran, Eddie Romero and Zack Scott, with Raquel Ferreira, the senior vice-president of major and minor league operations, taking on "an expanded role within the transition team."
The news was first announced after a 10-5 loss to the Yankees while most of the city’s attention was focused on the New England Patriots’ season-opening victory over Pittsburgh and the unveiling of a sixth Super Bowl banner. Henry, co-owner Tom Werner and team president Sam Kennedy told manager Alex Cora, and left it to him to tell the players.
"We were all kind of shocked," pitcher Nate Eovaldi said before Monday’s game. "AC pulled us in and explained what happened."
A statement emailed to reporters later Monday quoted the team’s top brass but said there would be "no formal media availability" to discuss the move less than a year after the team won the World Series. Cora said he was grateful to the man who gave him his first job as a major league manager.
"You go through this process and nobody gave you a shot and all of a sudden Dave Dombrowski, 40 years in the big leagues, gives me a chance to run this organization as a manager," Cora said. "For me, it’s hard, because somebody lost a job because we didn’t do the job on the field."
It was nothing new to Dombrowski, who has also been fired from the White Sox and Tigers. He did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.
"Dave will hold a special place in franchise history as a key architect of one of the greatest Red Sox teams ever assembled," Werner was quoted as saying. "His willingness to make bold moves helped deliver our fourth World Series championship in the 21st century."
A veteran baseball executive who worked in front offices in Chicago and Montreal before winning a championship in Miami and helping the Tigers reach the Series twice, the 63-year-old Dombrowski was brought in to steady the Red Sox front office in 2015 while the team stumbled to a second last place finish in a row.
The Red Sox followed with three straight AL East titles — a first in franchise history — and won a club-record 108 games last season en route to their fourth World Series championship since 2004.
But this year’s team — with largely the same roster as last year’s — has gone 76-67, losing five of its first six games and never really getting back into contention. While Dombrowski stood pat at the trade deadline, with a wild-card berth still in reach, the club went on an eight-game losing streak.
The Red Sox finished Sunday trailing the Yankees by 17 1/2 games in the AL East with 19 games to play.
"You look at his track record and it’s like, ‘Wow,"’ Cora said. "The expectations here are to win a championship very year. Is it fair? No. But I’m a fan of different sports, different teams — that’s what I want from my teams. … I think we live in a city where the standards are set very high."