Cherington at peace with decision to move on
A full-time employee of Sox since '99, departing GM will take time to evaluate options
BOSTON -- Ben Cherington chose not to remain as general manager of the Red Sox because he didn't feel he could be "all in," given the circumstances of the last few days. He also felt the organization could benefit from a clean break under the new leadership of Dave Dombrowski, who was introduced on Wednesday as president of baseball operations.
Roughly two hours after Dombrowski's coronation, Cherington met with the media in a different part of Fenway Park.
When Cherington came to work on Saturday morning, he was all in and seeking every possible way to help the Red Sox emerge from a disappointing season. But later that day, owner John Henry informed Cherington that the club was pursuing Dombrowski to run its baseball ops.
"Yeah, I was surprised," Cherington said. "As I've talked about a little already, obviously over the course of the summer and the last several weeks, we've been involved in a lot of self-examination and review of everything. I've been working on that with John, with others from the ownership group, obviously with baseball operations.
"That has transpired over several weeks with the sole focus of trying to find solutions -- solutions to the problems that exist particularly at the Major League level and have plagued us. There was a lot that came from that."
Cherington thought he had found a key asset less than a week ago when he recommended that ownership bring on former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto as a temporary consultant to help the club evaluate all of its talent.
Just one day after the Red Sox announced the hiring of Dipoto -- and without Cherington learning of it until two days later -- Henry and Werner met with Dombrowski at the quarterly Owners' Meetings to discuss bringing him on board.
"John and Tom met with Jerry while he was in town, and at that time, having been in a lot of conversations with John over the course of the summer, I asked again about his vision for the front-office structure," said Cherington. "I felt like in asking Jerry to come in at that time, I wasn't sure that was going to be appropriate if there was something going on that I didn't know about or some major change. At that time, he said, 'No.' He had met with Jerry, liked him, so we pursued that.
"That was the path we were going down. I was only focused on trying to find solutions to the problems we've had. Saturday, I was told they were pursuing Dave."
Henry said he had broached the subject of speaking to Dombrowski with Cherington.
"On August 4, when the Tigers announced the shakeup of Dave leaving, I spoke to [chairman] Tom [Werner] and Ben about having a conversation with Dave. Tom and I wanted to see if there was a fit for Dave within the Red Sox organization," said Henry. "Ben did not object."
However, Cherington didn't interpret the conversation like that and thought Henry was speaking about a more informal discussion between long-time friends.
"John's known Dave for a long time," Cherington said. "So I know John has talked to Dave off and on even years, over time, not just this year, but that's a relationship they have, so I know they talk from time to time. The first I heard of any pursuit of Dave for a role with the Red Sox was on Saturday."
Despite the way things ended, Cherington expressed gratitude to Red Sox ownership and even an understanding of why things evolved the way they did.
"I told John again yesterday that as owner of the Red Sox, he's got to do what he feels is in the best interest of the team," said Cherington. "I feel that this decision is in the best interest of the team also, and in my best interest."
For Dombrowski, the idea of working with Cherington, who knows the ins and outs of the organization better than anybody else, was appealing.
"I had hoped Ben would stay, because I've known Ben for a long time," Dombrowski said. "They left that decision up to me. I really felt that way. They both thought very highly of him and would have loved to have had him on board, but ultimately he felt it was his best interest, and the best interests of the Red Sox and everybody that's involved, to move on. I have tremendous professional respect for him."
Cherington, a native of New Hampshire, was named GM of the Red Sox in October 2011. The club won the World Series in '13. Cherington worked full-time for the club since 1999, dating back to the days of Dan Duquette.
"I was given the opportunity to do this job, and I was rooting for this team a long time before I worked for it. I will always be grateful for that opportunity," Cherington said. "I also want to say that I have a great respect for Dave Dombrowski. His résumé speaks for itself. He will be an asset, clearly, for the Red Sox."
Cherington said he will decompress for a bit before deciding which opportunities to pursue going forward.