Tigers extend Dombrowski's contract

Tigers extend Dombrowski's contract

DETROIT -- Dave Dombrowski has the opportunity to do what circumstances wouldn't allow a decade ago. Now, he'll have the chance to build upon his World Series team well beyond next year.

The Tigers' historic comeback from 119 losses to the Fall Classic in three years will mean a long stay for Dombrowski, who agreed on Thursday to a four-year contract extension to remain with the Tigers through 2011. Terms were not disclosed, but Dombrowski was already the highest-paid GM in baseball with an annual salary of $2 million.

The deal had been expected on the heels of the success from this year, which was expected to be an important year for Dombrowski's tenure as the team's CEO, president and general manager. The Tigers ended a 12-year streak of losing records with their best season since their 1984 World Series championship, making Dombrowski's stay an afterthought.

An extension had been in the works since late in the season, but Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch waited until after the season to make the announcement.

"I am thrilled that Dave has agreed continue to lead the Detroit Tigers in this capacity," Ilitch said in a statement. "Dave is a great leader and a great baseball guy who is bright, hard-working and committed to success. He is clearly the top executive in baseball today and unmatched in terms of his ability to oversee this club both on and off the field. I am confident that we will continue to make the same great strides in the years ahead that we did this season under his strong leadership."

Dombrowski had another year remaining on the contract he signed when he joined the club after the 2001 season, having served as president and GM with the Florida Marlins since 1991. He won a World Series in Florida in 1997, then had to dismantle much of the roster the next year, denying the team a chance to repeat.

He won't have to worry about taking apart his club this time around.

"We've been building here for a while," Dombrowski said. "We're not done by any means, but now we're at a point where we have a solid organization."

Dombrowski came to Detroit in 2001 just before the series of franchise sales that changed Marlins ownership from John Henry to Jeffrey Loria. Part of Dombrowski's attraction to the Tigers was the enticement of overseeing just about every aspect of the team, a challenge he compared to being as close as he could get to ownership without buying a club. When he added on GM duties upon dismissing Randy Smith a week into the 2002 season, he took on the day-to-day responsibility of rebuilding the on-field product, a process that began in earnest later that summer.

The Tigers lost 106 games in 2002 and set the AL record for losses the next season while putting a core group of young players in place. A series of free agent signings followed, from Ivan Rodriguez in 2004 to Magglio Ordonez the following year, then Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones last winter. The idea was to put the team in a position to contend, but the Tigers' historic rise from five straight 90-loss seasons through 2005 to 95 wins this year caught even the front office by surprise.

If Dombrowski serves out the entire contract with the general manager title, he will have the club's second-longest tenure for a GM since World War II, second only to Jim Campbell from 1962-83. Though speculation has included Dombrowski possibly handing off GM duties someday to one of his assistants, he said that he plans to remain in his multi-faceted role for the length of his contract.

"I signed with the idea of doing my present job the way we're currently set up," he said.

He has been able to handle both jobs with help from his assistants, many of whom have been around the organization almost as long as he has. Many of them, too, were rewarded with contract extensions of various lengths, including vice presidents Al Avila, John Westhoff, Scott Reid and David Chadd.

Minor League operations director Dan Lunetta and player operations director Glenn Ezell also agreed to contract extensions, as did the Major League scouting staff -- Scott Bream, Dick Egan, Al Hargesheimer, Mike Russell and Greg Smith.

"All of these individuals are quality baseball people and have been extremely important to the organization," Dombrowski said. "All of them have done an outstanding job, and it is great to have this group committed to the Tigers organization for years to come."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.