No one is making any Broad Street parade plans, taking ring sizes or clearing out spots in the office trophy case.
Still, after Dave Dombrowski was officially introduced Friday as the Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations, signing a four-year, $20 million contract, the Phillies made it clear they have no plans to scale back after several winters of spending big.
They are here to win, even if it means finding every piece of loose change in their couch cushions to bring back All-Star free agent J.T. Realmuto.
“It’s a retool, not a rebuild,’’ Dombrowski said in his introductory press conference. “We have too many good players on the club. Anytime you have three good starting pitchers like we have on top of the rotation, you’re in pretty good shape to be competitive.
“I know [owner] John [Middleton] wants to win.’’
Let’s put it this way: if the Phillies were going to scale back, Middleton would not have hired Dombrowski and made him one of the highest-paid executives in baseball.
Dombrowski doesn’t worry about being on the cover of Baseball America. He doesn’t talk about storing prospects or the need for patience.
He wants to win. And win now.
Dombrowski’s teams have won division titles in seven of his last nine years as a GM in Boston and Detroit, two World Series championships (1997 with the Marlins and 2018 with the Red Sox), and four league championships.
This is his latest challenge, inheriting a team that has not had a winning season since 2011, and full of gaping holes.
Let’s see. They need a shortstop. A catcher. Two starting pitchers. And a completely new bullpen.
Oh yeah, with a payroll that needs to be trimmed.
“I don’t come in here thinking we have an unlimited amount to spend,’’ Dombrowski said. “We have flexibility in finances, but I don’t think it’s an unlimited amount of funding. I wouldn’t expect [the payroll] to be the same amount as last year. …
“We want to win this year. We will do what we can. We have a great manager in Joe Girardi, and want to build an organization that can win year in and year out.’’
“I don’t look it at it like we're one player away from winning," he said.
Still, Dombrowski wouldn’t have left Nashville, where he is building a home and had plans to help the city get an expansion franchise or a relocated franchise like Tampa Bay, if he didn’t think he could win soon.
In Miami, he built an expansion team into a World Series champion in five years. He took over a decimated franchise in Detroit and had them in the World Series in five years. It took just three years to win a World Series in Boston in 2018.
Now, the plan is for Dombrowski to win again before his contract expires in four years.
“Between David and [manager] Joe Girardi,’’ Middleton said in a statement, “we now have two of the best people in place to set us back on the path where we want to be, and that is the postseason and contending for world championships.’’
The way Dombrowski looks at this challenge, he is assuming control of a sleeping giant, a team filled with stars, but missing the framework around them.
Dombrowski, the only GM or team president to lead three different franchises to a World Series, likely will be in the Hall of Fame one day without this final challenge, but this could assure his induction.
Really, he was perfectly content to stay in Nashville, and is convinced that it one day will be a major-league city. But when he spoke to the folks in the MLB headquarters Monday, they informed him it would be years before an expansion franchise would be considered.
So, after rejecting several overtures since the end of the season, including by the Phillies, he changed his mind Tuesday morning when Middleton called him for an hour. They had the makings of a deal by Wednesday morning.
Middleton isn’t handing him a blank checkbook, but the instructions to Dombrowski are clear:
Win as soon as possible.
“He’s a great owner,’’ Dombrowski said. “He wants to win. He’s a Philadelphia fan. He’ll do what he can to win. And somebody I look forward to working with.’’
Dombrowski helped construct a Red Sox that won a World Series championship in 2018. (Photo: Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports)
The Phillies, of course, would still love to bring back Realmuto, but not at the expense of leaving their bullpen in tatters. He wants more starters, particularly the power arms.
“I always believed in pitching,’’ Dombrowski said. “I still like our starters to go seven innings. You win with starting pitching. I do like good starting pitching.’’
The man had future Hall of Famers in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in Detroit.
He had Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello in Boston.
Now, he has Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in Philadelphia.
And he wants more.
“I want to win,’’ Dombrowski says, “but we have some holes to plug. You don’t just sacrifice your long-term unless you think you’re a championship-caliber club.’’
The Phillies, who have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, aren’t going to be able to trade prospects for stars. They’re not going to grab Blake Snell or Sonny Gray on the trade market. But they will sign pitchers. They will get a catcher. And they will be bringing in a whole slew of new arms for their bullpen.
But with one of the most aggressive executives in the game now in control, coupled with Middleton’s burning desire to win, the Phillies should be on the fast-track to being a World Series contender once again.
And there's nothing on Dombrowski's resume to suggest otherwise.
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