A lot can change in one year. In the case of the Boston Red Sox, the entire future of the franchise may have just changed less than one year after it reached the pinnacle of the sport by capturing its ninth World Series championship last October.
The 2019 campaign has been one to forget for the Boston Red Sox and their fans. They currently find themselves sitting with a 76-68 record after officially being eliminated from contention for the American League East due to a 5-0 loss at the hands of the New York Yankees on Monday night. They remain a seemingly insurmountable eight games out of a Wild Card spot as well.
Boston’s lack of success this season can be chalked up to a myriad of issues. Inconsistency in the starting rotation, a multitude of injuries, lack of bullpen depth, and under-achieving stars have all been contributing factors to the team’s downward trajectory in 2019.
To make matters worse for Dave Dombrowski, he entered the 2019 season without a contract extension from the Red Sox ownership group. Essentially, the writing was on the wall as it pertained to Dombrowski’s future in Boston. The team was about to face a plethora of roster challenges in 2019 and beyond, and as the season progressed the way it did it became more and more clear that Dombrowski was not the man to face those upcoming challenges.
Dombrowski, now a two-time World Series winner as an executive, came exactly as advertised. He was billed as a “win now” kind of team builder and it only took him three seasons to deliver a World Series championship to the Boston Red Sox. His acquisitions of David Price, J.D. Martinez, Craig Kimbrel, and Chris Sale highlighted the aggressive mindset and philosophy that Dombrowski possesses as an executive. He is one of, if not the best, big-league talent evaluators in the industry, and he used that knowledge to build a winning outfit in 2018. Even his smaller moves, such as acquiring Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce, proved to be instrumental in helping the Red Sox secure a World Series victory last season.
However, not all of Dombrowski’s moves produced good results during his tenure in Boston. His deal for Tyler Thornburg will be remembered as one of the worst trades in Red Sox’ history. Dombrowski dealt away a strong package of young players which included Travis Shaw and Mauricio Dubon for Thornburg, who barely saw the field with the Red Sox due to multiple injuries. In trading for Craig Kimbrel Dombrowski similarly gave up an overwhelming package of prospects to get the deal done. He offered up Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, and Logan Allen for Kimbrel, which took a big chunk out of the Red Sox’ farm system.
It was not just Dombrowski’s trigger-happy mentality towards the trade market that drew the ire of many within the organization, but it was also his need to double down on those acquisitions.
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Dombrowski began to hand out contract extensions like they were candy. He locked up Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and Nathan Eovaldi all to long-term deals that further bloated the Red Sox’ payroll and pushed them even closer to the luxury tax threshold.
He also felt the need to re-sign Steve Pearce and Eduardo Nunez to new contracts last offseason, both of whom have been non-factors for the Red Sox in their 2019 campaign.
Dombrowski’s pre-season spending spree put the franchise in a tough situation, financially speaking. Due to their payroll structure and their desire to remain under the luxury tax threshold, it is likely that the Red Sox will now have to explore the idea of parting with players like J.D. Martinez and/or Mookie Betts.
Despite all of his problematic acquisitions and spending, Dombrowski did exactly what he was hired to do: win a World Series in a short, 3-4 year window. Now, though, the Red Sox are about to embark on a new journey that requires a different type of executive to lead the way. Hence, it was only a matter of time before Dombrowski was shown the door by the Red Sox’ ownership group.
That being said, the way Dombrowski’s firing was handled was, frankly, embarrassing for the franchise. The Red Sox fired Dombrowski just a few hours after the team dropped their Sunday night primetime match-up against the Yankees by a score of 10-5. He was literally fired in the middle of the night while the rest of New England was reveling in the glory of the New England Patriots opening their season with a big victory on Sunday Night Football.
Burying Dombrowski’s firing in the middle of the night on a Sunday when all of New England is distracted by their favorite football team is cowardly and unprofessional. To make matters worse, John Henry and the rest of the Red Sox’ top brass declined to hold a press conference to officially announce the move, something that is customary and expected of all owners when it comes to personnel changes.
Henry and the Red Sox hired Dombrowski to win a World Series and he did just that, but they will not do a simple press conference to announce that they are firing him? What is worse is that Alex Cora, who worked under Dombrowski, was the first person who had to comment on his firing prior to the Red Sox’ Monday night game against the Yankees.
Apparently, this ownership group still has not learned how to professionally and respectfully let someone go from the organization, just ask Terry Francona.
The trio of Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran and Zack Scott will now take over the baseball operations for the Red Sox, and they will have a busy offseason ahead of them. Major questions pertaining to star players such as Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez will be the first of their issues, along with a starting rotation and bullpen that desperately need to be improved. They will also have to address the farm system that their former colleague shredded apart during his four-year tenure.
In many ways, the 2019-2020 offseason might provide more fireworks than the regular season did for the Boston Red Sox and their fans.