He left them in 2001 but it might be time for a reunion.
Dave Dombrowski left the Marlins two years before they would win the second World Series title in their short history to become the General Manager in Detroit. He had a notable amount of success since joining the Tigers’ front office, assembling a club that would make the postseason in five out of nine seasons since 2006. But now, he is looking to join another organization.
Just days after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Tigers opted to release Dombrowski from his contract. Al Avila signed a five-year contract to become the Tigers’ General Manager and the industry expectation is Dombrowski already has job offers lined up. Detroit wanted to move in a different direction and Avila very well might have a notable amount of success. But now a top front office executive is a free agent and the Marlins have an opportunity to sign him for the second time.
On the surface, the Marlins do not have a vacancy for Dombrowski to fill. Dan Jennings is the General Manager, Michael Hill the President of Baseball Operations, David Samson the President. But since the Marlins dismissed Mike Redmond, Jennings has been in the dugout managing games. Hill has been making the majority of personnel decisions with the help of a handful of assistants.
Although the Marlins have not had a notable amount of success with Jennings managing, they have likely performed well enough for him to at least be considered to manage in 2016. The Marlins are also still paying Redmond, which could factor into the decision of who manages next season. If Jennings remains the manager, which is possible but might be unlikely, there will be a spot to fill in the front office. Enter Dombrowski.
After the Tigers posted 119 losses in 2003, Dombrowski has been able to put together talented and productive major league teams. Under his leadership, the Tigers were buying more often than they were selling. Since 2003, the Marlins have been seeking consistency. They appear to have the core in place – it is adding the most fitting and productive surrounding pieces that has been challenging for Miami.
Even if they had to create a spot for him, the Marlins would likely be interested in Dombrowski. The more significant question: Would Dombrowski choose the Marlins?
There is something in this industry to be said for familiarity. Dombrowski has already seen time in Miami’ front office. It is a fairly new core and new minor league system. But he knows how the organization functions and is now more well-rounded after spending time in the American League.
Dombrowski has always been known for his ability to identify and develop top pitchers. The Marlins already have several top arms in place – Jose Fernandez is healthy following Tommy John surgery, Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez should be next season, and Tom Koehler, Brad Hand, David Phelps, Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley, and Kendry Flores all figure to be in the conversation next year.
Miami will likely look to add offense and upgrade the bullpen this winter. A team led by Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton, if not plagued by injuries, might be ready to compete as soon as 2016. And Dombrowski might be the ideal candidate to help the Marlins play postseason baseball moving forward.
It could be a longshot and the Marlins likely will not be linked to Dombrowski. But given his past experiences, the Marlins should at least considering adding him to their front office.