Passan: Why Dave Dombrowski deserves to get paid more like a player

From Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports on August 5, 2015, with mention of SABR member Lewie Pollis:

More than catcher or shortstop or starting pitcher, the general manager is the single most vital asset in baseball, the person with the greatest ability to make and break an organization. Because they wear suits instead of uniforms and operate inside offices instead of before tens of thousands, GMs make a fraction of what their employees do, one of the rare jobs where bosses are compensated so disproportionately with those they hand-pick.

If anyone can change that calculus, it is Dave Dombrowski, the first marquee free agent from the Class of 2015 to hit the market. The Detroit Tigers let Dombrowski go Tuesday afternoon, a move that divorces one of the most successful executives of his generation from the team he rescued from the doldrums and led to a pair of American League pennants and four consecutive postseason appearances.

Detroit’s success cemented Dombrowski’s place in the upper echelon of executives and as the most successful of his generation. Dombrowski ran the Montreal Expos at 31, won a championship with the Florida Marlins and navigated a 119-loss Tigers team into an annual powerhouse with an unmatched ability to win big trades and a knack for building a team around stars.

Because of that, Dombrowski inhabits a unique niche among his peers: He carries himself with the air of an owner, the baseball knowledge of a great scout and the humility of a low-level operations person. Dombrowski, 59, is the proto-executive, and the $3 million or so he was making with the Tigers could be a fraction of what he gets if resetting the market for executives is at all a consideration.

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Originally published: August 5, 2015. Last Updated: August 5, 2015.