The Philadelphia Phillies added Dave Dombrowski to their front office on Thursday.
Dombrowski has a track record of spending big when he has the support of ownership to do so. The big question surrounding the Phillies at this point is whether Dombrowski will have that freedom.
With the Tigers and Red Sox, Dombrowski took two separate franchises to the World Series. With Detroit, he aided a complete rebuild of a team that ranked among the worst in baseball history in 2003. Yet, just a few years later, they won the AL Pennant thanks to a few savvy moves, led in part by the signing of catcher Pudge Rodriguez. In the years after, he traded for the likes of Miguel Cabrera, and added Price Fielder, Torii Hunter and countless other All-Stars to the roster. It’s important to note that typically, Detroit is not a go-to organization in the free agent market. Dombrowski changed that by making them successful.
After a falling out in Motown, Dombrowski joined the Red Sox and aided a World Series championship in 2018, in part due to his decision to trade top prospects in his patented win-now approach. This included a trade for then-White Sox ace Chris Sale.
With the Phillies, the task will be greater. The team has several holes to fill and not much financial wiggle room to do it. This is where the savvy baseball mind of Dombrowski comes in.
3 moves Dave Dombrowski must make for the Phillies ASAP
3. Bring back JT Realmuto
This really shouldn’t be that hard. If Phillies ownership is committed to winning — and the move to hire Dombrowski suggests they are — then they ought to re-sign Realmuto as soon as humanly possible. Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball, and the top talent on the free agent market. Bringing him back to the City of Brotherly Love would signal a commitment to winning that has been lacking the last few months.
Behind Realmuto, the second-best available catcher is James McCann, and then perhaps the aging Yadier Molina. Realmuto is a solid defensive catcher with the ability to carry a team with his bat. That’s such a rarified feat that he’s competing with the record contract ever given to a catcher, previously held by Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.
Realmuto provides the Phillies with another building block, and better yet prevents him from joining the rival New York Mets and new billionaire owner Steve Cohen, who’s rumored to have interest in a new catcher, one way or another.