NEW YORK — Dave Dombrowski is free, released from his contract Tuesday after an incredibly successful run as president/general manager of the Detroit Tigers.
There has been a lot noise lately about the Red Sox needing a president of baseball operations above general manager Ben Cherington after Larry Lucchino stepped down and Sam Kennedy took Lucchino's role as president.
We're not calling for Cherington to be fired, and according to Red Sox sources, he's not going to be.
Yet Dombrowski, who was in Boston last Sunday after spending two days in Cooperstown, N.Y., is one of those executive superstars. It's like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper becoming a free agent. Every place he has been — Montreal, Florida, Detroit — he has made the team better. He's an excellent organizer, a guy who makes great trades, and he is one of the best out there at building an organization.
"I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership," Detroit owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement.
"Shocked," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman when the news came down. "That is one talented dude."
The most visible landing spot for Dombrowski would be Los Angeles, where the Angels saw GM Jerry Dipoto quit. They have been going with their former GM, Bill Stoneman, on an interim basis, but you get the sense the Angels could be the leader in the clubhouse.
It would be easy. The Angels would just hire Dombrowski now and have Stoneman remain as an adviser to owner Arte Moreno.
Dombrowski also has a personal reason for being on the West Coast, with his daughter an aspiring singer.
The Blue Jays have been looking for a successor to Paul Beeston as president/CEO, and Dombrowski would fit that situation like a glove.
"Any place he wants," Cashman said.
Dombrowski is highly respected and enjoyed a great relationship with Ilitch. When Dombrowski recently traded David Price, Joakim Soria, and Yoenis Cespedes, there was reason to believe he would be back for the reboot in Detroit, but Ilitch — or Dombrowski — had other ideas.
The one area where Dombrowski didn't succeed recently was Detroit's farm system, which is one of the worst in baseball, but that was partly because he wasn't afraid to trade prospects for established, exciting players.
Can the Red Sox afford not to consider Dombrowski?
Red Sox Nation seems firmly behind bringing in a high-profile baseball person such as Dombrowski. Cherington's favorability ratings are at an all-time low with the fans, but maybe public sentiment isn't what drives this decision.
Red Sox ownership's loyalty to Cherington is commendable. He won a championship just two years ago and for that, he deserves the benefit of the doubt and a chance to turn things around. Could he do that with Dombrowski?
This conversation doesn't even take place if the Red Sox weren't such a mess. But they are. They are buoyed by overinflated rankings of their farm system by ESPN and Baseball America. The really good prospects are in Single A, a long way from Fenway Park.
It's not like the 1980s, when we saw Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger, Ellis Burks, Marty Barrett, Jody Reed, Steve Lyons, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Al Nipper, Bruce Hurst, Bobby Ojeda, Oil Can Boyd etc. come up to form one of the best homegrown lineups in the league.
Until these young players all hit the majors, it's really hard to tell.
Dombrowski has made some of the greatest trades in recent memory.
He took over a Tigers team in 2002 that lost 106 games and then an AL-record 119 games the following year. Though he never won a World Series, he led the Tigers to two appearances.
He traded Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Frankie de la Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and Mike Rabelo to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera in the winter of 2007. He also acquired Gary Sheffield from the Yankees in 2006.
He acquired Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson in a three-team trade in December of 2009.
There were far more winners than losers.
So what's next?
Is he content to be in a role in which he lets his GM do the work as long as can oversee everything? It's sort of what's happened with Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans in San Francisco and Andy MacPhail and whomever he names his new GM in Philadelphia.
As we've written many times, it's always good to have a GM with eyes above him. Some Red Sox moves don't seem quite right. That's been the issue. We've listed all of them.
Not re-signing Miller over $1 million per season. Not re-signing Jon Lester. Trading John Lackey when he was due to make the minimum salary. Signing Rick Porcello to a four-year, $82.5 million extension.
Would Dombrowski have handled things differently?
Who knows? What is known is there's nothing wrong with a different set of eyes, particularly one as sharp as Dombrowski's.
The Angels situation seems like the best one for him. He won't have to worry about a GM, unless he wants that.
But Boston? Red Sox fans would be excited to get a proven, successful baseball man who can really turn a team around. Well, he's out there. He's there on a silver platter.