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Olney: What's next for the Red Sox

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Passan: Dombrowski's firing a shocking move by Red Sox (1:32)

Jeff Passan reacts to the Red Sox firing Dave Dombrowski and whether there will be a market for his services going forward. (1:32)

BOSTON -- A few minutes before the start of the Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Sunday night, Dave Dombrowski stood along the first-base line as part of a ceremony to honor club employees. When introduced by the public-address announcer, Dombrowski waved his right arm slightly. There was barely any acknowledgment from a crowd still filing in and made up of more Yankees fans than usual near the end of a lost Red Sox season.

But by the end of the night, Dombrowski's standing was the dominant issue in the building, after the Red Sox abruptly fired him with a year remaining on the contract of one of baseball's most accomplished executives.

There had been an undercurrent of conversation inside and outside the building dating back to August and September of 2018 about whether Dombrowski was in jeopardy of losing his job as president of baseball operations, an ownership decision that might have been deferred by the club's World Series victory last fall. It is not immediately known why the firing went down in this manner, at midnight of the third game of a wraparound series in mid-September.

Perhaps Dombrowski had sought clarity about where he stood with ownership in recent days and the final decision was accelerated by a conversation during Sunday's game. Maybe Red Sox owner John Henry was simply ready to move on, going into what will be an extremely busy and potentially pivotal winter of work for the franchise, and wanted to give himself the best chance to identify a permanent replacement as soon as possible.