Mariners Lose Out On Dombrowski, May Keep Zduriencik


Seattle Mariners fans are masters of endurance. We’ve been through a lot, and so we’re not daunted by the thought of continuing to go through a lot – that’s the way it’s always been, after all, and most if the time it feels like that’s the way it will always be. When opportunity for improvement arises, we just assume our favorite team is going to miss out. Because that’s usually what happens.

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Days after the trade deadline, the Detroit Tigers released Dave Dombrowski from his contract so that he could pursue other options. It was a stunner of a move, given how hugely successful the fourteen years Dombrowski spent in Detroit had been. He was crowned as the offseason’s “premier free agent,” though he didn’t have to wait ’til the offseason to find a new team.

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The Boston Red Sox are hiring Dombrowski, per an official team release. He’ll serve as their president of baseball operations, and with now-former GM Ben Cherington choosing to step aside it looks like he’ll have a chance to re-shape Boston’s baseball ops department to his own liking. Which was his hope all along, apparently:

"“Although I did have other potential options within baseball, there was no option that stood out as clearly as the chance to come to Boston and win with the Red Sox. Boston is a baseball city like no other and its history and traditions are unique in our game. I expressed to [owner] John [Henry] and [chairman] Tom [Werner] that Boston would be my absolute top choice and am honored to have the chance to serve Red Sox Nation.”"

If this gives you the idea that Dombrowski was never really interested in working for the Mariners, then, well, yeah, it sure seems that way, right? Dombrowski was mentioned as a potential Mariners hire from basically the moment he became a free agent, though there was never any official confirmation of the Mariners’ interest. The most “official” word on the situation came in this piece from Ken Rosenthal, which was published before the Red Sox announced Dombrowski’s hiring.

The post in mostly non-Mariners related, but the Seattle details are pretty telling. Here are a couple of quotes pulled for emphasis. Reader beware: these will not make you feel awesome about the Seattle Mariners.

"Some rival executives question whether the Mariners would hire Dombrowski, saying that the team does not pay top dollar for its front-office hires."

The Mariners have lacked quality senior leadership for… ever. And they’re not interested in paying the price to get better at the top of the organization, though they’re fine with giving a past-his-prime Robinson Cano $240 million. Got it.

"The Mariners have not made a decision on whether to retain GM Jack Zduriencik, but sources say they are in the “contemplation phase,” pondering whether to make such a move."

Which means they might keep him. Which is insane. I don’t know if there are any fans left who are thinking “yeah, Zduriencik’s got the right idea.” This is his seventh season in charge of the Mariners. The offense sucks, the defense sucks, the rotation sucks, the bullpen sucks, the farm system is bare, and the payroll is at an all-time high. The team has mostly sucked for as long as he’s been in charge, and is in the midst of a season that represents a huge step backwards. The “contemplation phase” should be well in the rearview mirror.

Of course, there have been mixed reports on the extent of Seattle’s interest, or whether or not the team ever even reached out to Dombrowski’s camp. While the two were connected frequently, it appears as though that may have been mostly speculation on behalf of outsiders. Though Bob Nightengale did tweet this after the Red Sox deal came to fruition:

So perhaps the Mariners were seriously considered, though they were still well behind the reknowned executive’s “absolute top choice.” Seattle was, at best, Dombrowski’s fallback option. Whether or not that means Seattle was willing to pay up for his services may never be known, though if they were it would have represented a clear departure from the team’s longstanding norm.

A broken organization with a hardly-functional front office is said to be considering making no changes to that front office, and the impetus might be monetarily-driven. This should not sit will with you. Dombrowski is in Boston, where he will be given money and decision-making autonomy that we have reason to believe he would not have had in Seattle. This is the Mariners’ biggest problem: they won’t accomodate top executive talent, and the loss is entirely their own doing.

Next: Fernando Rodney Passes The Point Of No Return

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