The Detroit Tigers' window of contention is closing fast. Very few (if any) fans doubt that now after the team's relatively sluggish 44-42 start in 2015. However, morale has remained relatively high, as team president and general manager has earned the benefit of the doubt with his ability to retool his team's roster on the fly. His trade for Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson in 2009 is still paying dividends, and articles like "What is Dombrowski's most underrated move?" elicit a number of responses.
In other words, he's good.
One idea Tigers fans haven't given much thought to is what life will be like after Dombrowski leaves the organization. We're all day-to-day, as legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully once said, and even successful executives can wear out their welcome if they hold their post too long (see: Dumars, Joe). Fox Sports' Jon Morosi speculated on Dombrowski's future on Friday, citing Dombrowski's expiring contract and a lack of extension talks as a reason why our greatest fears could be coming to fruition: the 2015 season could be Dombrowski's last in Detroit.
While the team has not looked very impressive this season -- and rather unenthused at times -- it's hard to imagine Dombrowski's job being in any sort of jeopardy. He is the architect of a four-time division winner, and has engineered two World Series appearances in the past decade. Owner Mike Ilitch may be impatient for a title, but he also likely remembers what life was like before Dombrowski was hired.
Contracts for coaches and front office executive should not be viewed in the same light that player deals are. A manager may feel like a "lame duck" in the final year of his contract, but general managers regularly go through the final years of their contracts without much hand-wringing over their futures. A general manager's job security is not tied to his contract; in fact, it may be more directly related to his boss's mood when he wakes up in the morning. Buying out a multi-year contract for a fired GM is a drop in the bucket for a team owner, and will not be a deterrent if the man upstairs decides that change is necessary.
Let's pop the balloon, though. Dombrowski has been through this same situation twice before during his tenure in Detroit, working through expiring contract season in 2006 and 2011. He signed contract extensions after the season both times without so much as a peep of looking elsewhere. It's hard to see Ilitch being outbid for Dombrowski's services when he has offered market value to Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez without provocation. Ilitch rewards his own, and Dombrowski should be no exception.
There is a chance that Dombrowski could choose to move on after this season. He will be 59 years old after the season and has been in the industry since 1978. It's hard to see him taking a similar position with another organization, as Morosi suggests, but no one could fault him if he were to take a job in the MLB league offices. I would imagine that these positions are well-compensated, and far less time-intensive and stressful than working in a front office. The Tigers would sorely miss him, though.