The Red Sox fired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski minutes after the team’s 10-5 loss Sunday night against the Yankees, replacing him with four assistants on an interim basis.
The decision came less than 11 months after the Sox won the World Series. Dombrowski was on the field at Fenway Park before Sunday’s game for a ceremony honoring longtime team employees. But just after midnight, a team spokesman said he had been let go.
“I just found out. I’m surprised and shocked,” manager Alex Cora said.
Baseball operations vice presidents Raquel Ferreira, Brian O’Halloran, Eddie Romero, and Zack Scott will run the team until a new general manager or president of baseball operations is named.
Dombrowski did not respond to a request for comment.
The Red Sox are expected to make a more formal announcement Monday. At 76-67, the Red Sox are in third place, 17½ games behind the first-place Yankees with 19 games remaining after going 108-54 last season.
Dombrowski made a series of unexpected decisions that contributed significantly to the disappointing season, chief among them electing not to bolster the team’s bullpen following the loss of free agents Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel. That led to a slow start, the Sox losing 17 of their first 28 games. The team got within a half-game of a wild-card spot July 27 but Dombrowski made no moves before the trade deadline, again deciding not to improve the pitching staff. The Sox responded with eight consecutive losses and fell out of contention.
Dombrowski, 63, joined the Red Sox on Aug. 18, 2015, his hiring announced during the late innings of a night game at Fenway Park. He made a series of quick, splashy improvements to fix a last-place team, trading for Kimbrel and signing lefthander David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal that offseason. The Sox won the American League East in 2016 before a quick elimination from the playoffs. Dombrowski then traded four prospects to get ace lefthander Chris Sale.
Dombrowski fired manager John Farrell after another first-round playoff exit in 2017 and hired Cora, who led the Sox to a championship last season.
Cora was stunned at the news, saying ownership informed him just after the game.
“I’m not ready to talk about it,” he said.
Most of the players were similarly surprised.
“Honestly, it was kind of shocking to everybody,” said J.D. Martinez, who was signed by Dombrowski before last season. “[Cora] let everybody know. Just a shock. It’s wild.”
Romero and Scott are expected to be among the candidates to replace Dombrowski. Ownership also could be interested Arizona Diamondbacks executive vice president and general manager Mike Hazen, who was with the Red Sox from 2006-16 in different capacities.
Whoever emerges will face challenges.
■ Martinez has the right to opt out of his contract after the season;
■ Sale, who was signed to a five-year, $145 million deal in March, is out for the season with an elbow injury of still undetermined severity;
■ Price, who has three years and $96 million remaining, has averaged only 21 starts the last three seasons because of various injuries;
■ Dombrowski also signed Nate Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million deal that has so far been a bust. The righthander has a 5.77 ERA in 19 games and missed three months after having elbow surgery;
■ Mookie Betts, the American League Most Valuable Player in 2018, will be a free agent after next season and has so far resisted entreaties to sign an extension.
“It’s a business. It’s kind of part of it,” Betts said when asked his reaction to Dombrowski being fired.
A new general manager, Betts said, would not change his stance of getting what he feels is proper value.
“It doesn’t really matter who’s there. It’s going to be the same answer. This is proof that this is a business,” Betts said. “Like I said, I love it here, but it’s definitely still a business.”
Since the end of the 2011 season, when manager Terry Francona was fired and GM Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs, the Sox have been in a state of flux. Ben Cherington was GM from 2012-15 before Dombrowski came in. Cora is the third manger in that time, following Bobby Valentine and Farrell.