When you look at the Washington Nationals recent success over the last few seasons, you have to credit a lot of that success to President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. Rizzo gave the Nationals a solid foundation of young players and found the right veterans to turn Washington DC into a baseball town since he took the job from Jim Bowden in 2006.
However, while Rizzo isn’t even high on the people to blame for the Nats’ disappointing season, there was a surprising tweet that hit the internet a couple of days ago regarding a former Tigers’ general manager that is currently looking for another job. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals are one of three possible destinations for Dave Dombrowski’s next job. This comes after he was released from his deal as the Tigers’ GM a couple of weeks ago:
Now, Dombrowski, who had been the Tigers’ general manager since 2002, has ties to the Nationals’ organization. His first general manager position was with the Montreal Expos, when he took over for Bill Stoneman in 1988. The trade that he is most well known for from his time with Montreal was dealing away Randy Johnson as one of three pitching prospects to the Mariners for Mark Langston.
Over his four years in Montreal, the Expos had 80 or more wins in three of those seasons, but a 71-90 record in 1991 would end up being his final season before he became the Marlins’ GM in 1992. However, Dombrowski went on to win a title with the Marlins in 1997 and made it to two World Series with the Tigers during his tenure there that began in 2002.
The one thing that would be interesting to find out about Dombrowski is how he would handle a farm system in Washington that is one of the best in the sport. Coming into this season, the Tigers had one of the worst farm systems, but it looks like he got some good returns when he traded away David Price and Yoenis Cespedes before the deadline.
What kind of general manager/president would Dombrowski be if he had the job in DC? I spoke with Dave Holcomb, the co-editor of Motor City Bengals, to get his thoughts on how their former GM would fare:
"“What Dombrowski can bring to the Nationals is that winning attitude. He tries to win at all costs, which is why Tigers fans were still wondering whether he would buy at the deadline this year because he never, never sells or gives up. Ultimately, even he knew the Tigers were not playing well enough, though, and had to sell.All the sudden, Washington seems to have a lot of holes. Jordan Zimmerman is probably going to leave in free agency and Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman aren’t the players they once were. Dombrowski’s bread and butter is trades, so if the Nationals have the farm system to move in deals and the money to buy other free agents, Dombrowski is a general manager who can quickly turn a team into a winner. But, it will be at the expense of the Nationals’ minor league system. Under Dombrowski, Detroit developed very few stars. Justin Verlander is really the only one that comes to mind.”"
Dombrowski could be brought on as a consultant under Rizzo. However, with his resume, he is more than likely to get at least another general manager job, if not, become a president of a team. So, the question has to be asked. Would the Nationals be willing to shake up the front office that much should the team fail to make the postseason?
Right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In Jon Heyman’s Inside Baseball column on CBS Sports yesterday, he says that the front office is still confident that Rizzo is the right person for the job:
"“While Dombrowski was linked to the Nats for a possible front office position in one report, there was no confirmation of this possibility, and word seems to be that Rizzo continues to have the strong support of ownership.” (h/t CBS Sports)"
Rizzo, as I said before, has set up a good foundation, but is it possible that the Nationals need another man at the helm to push it forward to the next step? Plus, if players aren’t happy with Matt Williams’ bullpen decisions from the past, do the players that are with the team from 2012 still feel Rizzo did them a disservice when he shut down Stephen Strasburg in September of that season?
When the Nationals went out and got Max Scherzer this winter, they made the statement that they were going for a championship. If the Lerners were to make a change at GM, Dombrowski would be the right call because he is a man that will make the necessary moves to keep a team in contention for an extended period of time. I’m not calling for Mike Rizzo’s job, but if Dombrowski is a possibility, the Washington Nationals need to definitely consider it.