DETROIT – The end of Dave Dombrowski's tenure in Detroit came suddenly and unexpectedly — like so many of the moves he made to build the Tigers into an American League powerhouse.
Dombrowski is out after nearly 14 seasons as president and general manager of the Tigers. The four-time defending Central Division champions announced the move Tuesday, catching people at Comerica Park and beyond by surprise. Dombrowski was fresh off making several big trades last week, and his exit set off rampant speculation about where he would next work.
Dombrowski was in the last season of his contract and overseeing a team stuck below .500, so there was already speculation about whether he would be back in 2016. But his abrupt exit — accompanied by a somewhat cryptic explanation from the team — was unusual.
He is being replaced by Al Avila, his top assistant since 2002. Avila's son, Alex, catches for the Tigers.
"I've decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities," owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement. "I feel this is the right time for the Tigers to move forward under new leadership."
The Tigers held a news conference at the ballpark, introducing Avila before Tuesday night's game with Kansas City. Ilitch wasn't there, and neither was Dombrowski.
"I don't know how or why Mr. Ilitch made the decision," Avila said.
Avila said Ilitch hired him Saturday, a day after Dombrowski completed the last of his trade-deadline deals. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria were all dealt.