Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski speaks to the media in Detroit Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014.
It was Dave Dombrowski’s final move as the Detroit Tigers’ front man.
Shortly after 3 p.m. today, Dombrowski sent a clubhouse staffer to pull his son, Landon, off the field at Comerica Park.
Landon Dombrowski was playing in centerfield with a handful of other kids. When he reached his dad near third base, they walked into the home dugout and out of the Tigers’ organization.
Dombrowski’s 14-year run as Tigers general manager ended soon thereafter. Assuming Dombrowski’s post will be longtime assistant GM Al Avila.
“I would like to thank Dave Dombrowski for his 14 years of service,” owner Mike Ilitch said in a news release. “Together, we’ve enjoyed some success, but we’re still in aggressive pursuit of our ultimate goal: to bring a World Series title to Detroit and Michigan. I’ve decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other opportunities. I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership.”
Avila, 57, has seved as a front office executive for the past 24 years, the last 14 of them with the Tigers. He will assume all responsibilities related to baseball operations of the club and will report directly to Ilitch.
Avila is the father of Tigers catcher Alex Avila.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity, and honored and grateful to Mr. Ilitch for having the faith and trust in me to run the ballclub in our continuing pursuit of a World Series championship,” Avila said in the release. “I believe I’m uniquely qualified to be successful in this role in leading the organiztion. We’re confident we can make a storng push to win this year, and that we have the foundation in place to win next year and for years to come.”
Dombrowski was not under contract for 2016. He signed a four-year extension with the organization in August 2011.
He was not quoted in the Tigers’ news release about the moves. Dombrowski attended a charity dancing event Monday night but didn’t give any indication about a potential move, instead looking ahead to the rest of the season after the team traded stars David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria last week.
Under Dombrowski’s guidance, the Tigers went from basement dwellers of baseball — losing an American League-record 119 games in 2003 — to the cusp of that world championship 86-year-old Ilitch so badly covets.
The team advanced to the playoffs in five of Dombrowski’s 14 years. It advanced to the World Series twice — in 2006 and 2012 — losing both times. They were eliminated in the AL Championship Series in 2011 and 2013 and have won four consecutive AL Central championships.
The move sent shockwaves through the baseball industry, as Dombrowski, one of the most successful general managers of this generation, hits the open market and will garner a great deal of interest from other teams.
He has one World Series championship to his name, with the Florida Marlins in 1997.
Making the decisions now will be Avila, who worked under Dombrowski in Florida and Detroit.
“Al Avila is a true baseball man,” Ilitch said in the release. “I’m confident that Al will bring his own approach and his own style to the general manager position. He’s worked extremely hard over the course of his career to afford himself this opportunity with the Detroit Tigers.”
And after a lifetime in baseball as a coach, scout and executive, Avila now has that opportunity.