Big, rather shocking news out of Detroit as general manager Dave Dombrowski is out as general manager. Team owner Mike Illitch has characterized it thusly:
“I’ve decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities.”
Which is another way to say that Dombrowski, whose contract was to expire after this season, was not going to be asked back. Taking over for Dombrowski is longtime assistant Al Avila, who will assume Dombrowski’s title of GM and will be Vice President of Baseball Operations. Avila is the father of Tigers catcher/1B Alex Avila.
Dombrowski helped build this Tigers team into a perennial contender, but with their fortunes souring this season and a recent sell-off of David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, it was time to build. And building is not something Dombrowski has done a ton of in recent years.
And now a big job lays ahead for Al Avila. And big shoes to fill.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.