Phillies ownership has tough decision ahead regarding GM Matt Klentak's future

Phillies and Matt Klentak have some tough decisions ahead
Managing Partner John Middleton has some serious questions he'll need to answer over the coming days and weeks as the evaluation process begins following a disastrous 2020 season for the Phillies. 

He'll begin his evaluation efforts with the front office. In a season where more than half of the teams in each league made the postseason, general manager Matt Klentak and the team he assembled is on the outside looking in. The payroll was north of $205 million - the highest in franchise history and the sixth-highest in all of baseball. 

The Phillies haven't posted a winning record in nine seasons, and five of those non-winning seasons have come on Klentak's watch. The club finished this season with a 28-32 record, including a 1-7 limp to the finish. Sitting aside Klentak on the hot seat is team president Andy MacPhail. 

The bullpen Klentak constructed was the worst in 90 years. The deadline moves he made to add reinforcements to the 'pen backfired. 

 

Now, if left in charge, he'll be on the hook to negotiate a long-term deal with J.T. Realmuto, build a new bullpen, address the backend of the starting rotation, and look for potential free agents to fill in at shortstop and in the outfield. 

Klentak has two more years on his contract, but that doesn't mean Middleton isn't capable of pulling the trigger and rebuilding a new front office. 

If Middleton does decide to move on, it will be in the organization's best interests to make a move quickly. There are too many questions surrounding the roster construction for 2021 to move slowly through the search and hiring process. 

One item that's important to note on the GM situation is the financial impact of COVID-19. The Phillies, like all clubs, lost a considerable amount of money this season. According to sources, the club is looking at a round of potential buyouts and layoffs come November. If Middleton were to let Klentak walk, he'd still be on the hook for the remaining two years of his contract. That could pose a financial problem if the club wanted to cut bait and bring in a replacement. 

Perhaps Bryce Harper said it best on Sunday when asked about Klentak's future with the Phillies. 

"I'm not an owner," Harper said. "I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions." 
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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