In shocking news out of Detroit, the Tigers and team president Dave Dombrowski have agreed to part ways. In explaining the decision, owner Mike Ilitch expressed his willingness to let Dombrowski, the man who rebuilt the organization from nothing into a contender, to pursue other opportunities.
Fans of teams with said opportunities, naturally, are salivating.
Though the Seattle Mariners do of course still employ general manager Jack Zduriencik, his footing—facing seven season at the helm without a postseason appearance—is tenuous, to put it kindly.
If the M's were to make a run at Dombrowski, the type of executive who's excelled both at rebuilding a team and sustaining a star-studded contender, would they have a chance of landing him? One esteemed reporter who opined on the Mariners GM gig before isn't ruling it out.
Early returns on likely Dombrowski landing:Toronto as president, Seattle— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) August 4, 2015
It's probably nothing, but if one of the most respected reporters in the business is going to say something on the matter, it's better than him saying the opposite.
Before looking at the Mariners, it's best to consider Dombrowski's other likely suitors.
There, with Seattle, Gammons mentions Toronto. And in terms of roster and atmosphere, Toronto seems like a more viable fit than the M's. The thing is, how does this all work when there are currently no plans for the man who created that roster and environment to depart?
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston plans to retire after this season and, as Gammons mentions, Dombrowski could step into that role. But then, do they really can general manager Alex Anthopoulos after all he's done this year? If not, how would that relationship potentially work, assuming Dombrowski would desire full autonomy wherever he went? There's a fit there, but not a perfect one.
Of course, there are the Red Sox, who themselves are parting ways with CEO Larry Luchino, and are currently searching for a president of baseball operations. The early word, however, is that it will not be Dombrowski:
Tigers let Dombrowski go to pursue other opportunities. A Red Sox source said club is not making a run at him.— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) August 4, 2015
But, even with a question of fit, the two sides will talk.
There are also the Angels, who last month fired Jerry Dipoto as general manager. But the way that played out, with DiPoto losing a power struggle with Mike Scoscia, Anaheim is likely not the best destination if Dombrowski does indeed desire full autonomy over baseball operations.
Now, the Mariners.
If Zduriencik were to be let go, there is no question Dombrowski would have full control of baseball ops here in Seattle if the Mariners were to pursue him. However, if he wishes to be a team president—the title he could obtain in Toronto—there are issues. Well, one really: they just named Kevin Mather team president last year. And he's done an admirable job thus far.
There are options, though it's unclear if the Mariners would be willing to pursue them. For the right guy, the Mariners could split the team president job, separating President, Baseball Ops from President, Everything Else. It's something Howard Lincoln has been resistant to in the past, as evidenced by the sole hiring of Mather.
But if the Mariners were willing to pull out the stops for Dombrowski, the fit is clear. Joining the Tigers in 2002 as president and chief executive office—then seizing the GM title shortly thereafter—he's shown the ability to build something from the ground up and then, once on top, keep a team there for a sustained period of time. He'd be entering a situation in Seattle where, clearly, the goal is win in the next two to three years, while Felix Hernandez, Robinson Canó and Nelson Cruz are capable of being the core of a World Series team.
And that's where the appeal, hypothetically, would be for Dombrowski. This can be a contender with his guidance. There are, obviously, questions about the working environment here in Seattle, and how Nintendo's ownership—in conjunction with Howard Lincoln's oversight—would compare to the leeway Mike Ilitch afforded.
Then again, this is a team in a premier North American city that's raised its payroll nearly $50 million in the past two years. We beat this organization up a lot, and rightly so, but in the hands of the right person, it'd be in position to thrive.
Is Dave Dombrowski the right person? Possibly. Do the Mariners have a shot at luring him in? I mean, maybe.
There are reasons why this can't happen or wouldn't work—but then again, there are reasons going the other way as well. It's August and the Mariners are nine games under. I'll cling to what I can.