Current Red Sox president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, won a World Series championship 20 years ago with the Miami Marlins. Unfortunately, he was a major part in that roster’s fire sale the following year.
While sitting in the Red Sox dugout, Dave Dombrowski said, “No, I don’t wear it at all. I’m not a big jewelry person. They’re big and they get in the way.” He was referring to the 1997 World Series ring that he won with the Miami Marlins when he was their general manager. He was largely responsible for that team’s young, talented roster but he was also responsible for the trading away of many of those talented players the following winter.
In Game 7 of the 1997 World Series on October 26th, Edgar Renteria drove in the winning run for the Marlins and secured them a championship. By December 25, 1997, Dombrowski had traded Moises Alou, Robb Nen, Devon White, Jeff Conine, Kevin Brown, Ed Vosberg, Dennis Cook, and Kurt Abbott. The ownership group of the Marlins at the time demanded that Dombrowski and his staff liquidate the roster and slash their payroll.
The Marlins still had their ring ceremony and banner raising in 1998 to honor the championship team. However, more than half the championship roster was now scattered elsewhere on other teams. Dombrowski and his assistant general manager then spent a number of weeks delivering the World Series rings to players in person.
"“I never thought of the 1998 Marlins as a defending world champion club,” Dombrowski said."
Now, Dombrowski is trying to win his second World Series title and is in a position where the team will largely stay in tact the following season. Dombrowski is in his second season with the Red Sox and has built the franchise’s first team to win back-to-back division championships.
For the Marlins, Dombrowski never had to chance to truly defend their title. With the Red Sox, Dombrowski has now defended the American League East division title and is hoping that next season he is defending the World Series title.
"“From an organizational perspective and everything that goes along with that, being in a position to try to win that second World Series would mean a great deal to me,” Dombrowski said. “I would like to do that. We didn’t really have a chance to celebrate very long that last time I was involved in it. We’ve had good clubs [since then]. It just hasn’t happened.”"
Through Dombrowski’s near 40-year career, his teams have made 7 postseason appearances and he has secured 3 pennants. He has also been to the World Series three times: once with the Marlins and winning, and twice while he was the general manager of the Detroit Tigers. In the 2006 World Series, the Tigers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals and in 2012, the San Francisco Giants swept the Tigers to add to their “even year magic.”
Dombrowski, even before joining the Red Sox, was known as a tinkering type of general manager. He is very active in the trade market and has even earned the nickname, “Dealin’ Dave.” This year, Dombrowski has added Eduardo Nunez and Addison Reed after the team needed a replacement for Dustin Pedroia as well as a proven bullpen piece.
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Dombrowski has also been the author of some blockbuster trades that have changed franchises. In 2007, Dombrowski acquired Miguel Cabrera. In 2009, there was a three-team trade involving Max Scherzer, Prince Fielder, and Ian Kinsler. In 2014, for the Tigers, he acquired David Price and has since been reunited with him. And don’t forget this past winter when Dombrowski added the current Red Sox ace, Chris Sale.
Luckily for Dombrowski, he will likely not need to make any more blockbuster trades this winter, even if the team cannot secure a World Series title. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez, and Rafael Devers all represent an incredibly young core that are under contract through at least 2019.
Dombrowski wasn’t the general manager when those players were acquired and developed and he was fortunate to have them already here. But he has dealt more than 20 of the other Red Sox prospects over his past two seasons. Those prospects have turned into current contributors like Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and Craig Kimbrel.
So, if the Red Sox do win the World Series, it is likely that Dombrowski will have a good chance at defending the title in 2018 with the same cast.
"“I think the one part that was diminished [in 1997], which you just realize, is that part of the fun of winning is being with that group the whole year and then coming back as a defending world champion,” Dombrowski said. “That was one thing that was taken away. But I know the joy of winning it, professionally, is as good as it gets, and that’s something I’d like to be able to enjoy again.”"
And who knows, maybe Dombrowski will even decide he likes the newer model of the World Series rings.