The Philadelphia Phillies have hired longtime baseball executive Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations, according to two people familiar with the decision.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the team hadn’t announced the move. An official announcement is expected Friday, according to one of the people.
Andy MacPhail is the Phillies’ current president and has planned to retire after the 2021 season. He said in October he would be willing to step aside sooner to make way for a new baseball operations boss.
Dombrowski was the youngest general manager in baseball history when he took over the Montreal Expos in 1988 at 31 years old, and he quickly turned the small-market club first into a competitor — then a legitimate contender — on the strength of a fruitful farm system.
He joined the expansion Florida Marlins in 1991 and was the chief architect of their 1997 World Series championship team, then oversaw an ownership-mandated fire sale before the next season. He helped rebuild a Marlins club that won another title in 2003, although Dombrowski had left for Detroit by then.
Best known for aggressively pursuing major league talent, Dombrowski has also overseen the drafting and development of a number of stars, including Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
Dombrowski won AL pennants with Detroit in 2006 and 2012 before the Tigers cut him loose after the 2015 season. He joined the Red Sox as president of baseball operations the following August and made a number of key acquisitions — including ace Chris Sale, slugger J.D. Martinez and manager Alex Cora — that led to Boston’s 2018 World Series championship.
Dombrowski was fired by the Red Sox in September 2019 amid a disappointing follow-up to the championship run.
Aggressive spender, trader
Known for his ability to land top-level major league talent — both by spending on free agents and trading away top prospects — Dombrowski is taking over a franchise that may not be positioned to spend freely due to existing big contracts and the burden of the coronavirus pandemic.
Phillies owner John Middleton has spent aggressively in recent seasons, most notably signing slugger Bryce Harper to a $330 million US, 13-year deal in 2019. The team has millions more tied up in deals for Zack Wheeler, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and Aaron Nola.
The spending spree could be at an end, at least for now. A person familiar with the Phillies’ finances told the AP last week the club lost $145 million during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season played without fans. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t officially released the figures.
Philadelphia finished 28-32 last season, one win shy of ending a nine-year playoff drought. The Phillies haven’t had a winning season since taking five straight division titles, two National League pennants and one World Series crown from 2007-11.
The Phillies fired general manager Matt Klentak after the season and reassigned him within the organization.