MacPhail says GM hire could take time for Phillies

Phillies president Andy MacPhail
It has been nearly a month since the Phillies announced Matt Klentak's demotion from the role of general manager, and according to president Andy MacPhail, the club is not planning on naming a permanent replacement anytime soon. 

"Who’s going to want to uproot in the middle of a pandemic?” MacPhail said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “I could see this thing going longer. Certainly, through until ’21, when you have a little more clarity with what it is we’re facing." 

Ned Rice, Klentak's former assistant, has the interim GM tag. 

"Most of what is in front of us in the short- and mid-term relates to current personnel," MacPhail said. "We can do that internally, and I am very confident that Ned can get us through that." 

MacPhail, along with owner John Middleton, has candidly spoken about the challenges of bringing candidates to Philadelphia and meeting staff amid the pandemic. 

"Hell, our offices aren't even going to be open until January and that might be a little optimistic," MacPhail said. "You want the next regime to do well. You want to put them in a position to succeed. In my estimation, if you brought somebody in here right now with a limited capacity to affect positive change, it's just borderline not fair to them." 

MacPhail said he would step aside before his contract expires next year if ownership wanted to bring in a 'big fish' to manage the baseball side of things in the front office. He also stressed the importance of the organization hiring a president of baseball operations and wants to see owner John Middleton be more involved in the selection process. 

"Our ownership has to be completely invested," MacPhail said. "I think John needs to be more hands-on early on, and I've told him that. Because I'm not going to be here in a year, so it doesn't matter who I pick. They need to be invested in it." 



MacPhail expects the free-agent market to be slow to form, giving the Phillies a bit of a cushion if they were in a position to make a hire. He also made it clear the club isn't in a position to make much of a splash in the free-agent market this offseason. Internally, the club is looking at a significant staff reduction while potentially trimming and cutting some departments altogether. 

"This isn't a fun time to be in baseball," MacPhail said. 

Middleton said earlier this month that the Phillies will have lost more than $100 million this year due to COVID-19. With uncertainty surrounding how the 2021 season will look, the Phillies may be forced to rely on cheap acquisitions in an attempt to improve the roster. The biggest hole could be behind the plate as it's likely the club will lose J.T. Realmuto on the free-agent market. 

"We just couldn't find common ground," MacPhail said of the club's previous efforts to sign Realmuto to a long-term deal. 

Could that change? 

"There are two things we’ve got going for us," MacPhail said. "The first is I think he enjoyed his time here, and we want him back. So I think those two things give you some measure of hope. In any offseason, there are an amazing amount of variables -- and you can just multiply that exponentially this offseason. But, yeah, as long as the player enjoyed his time here and the team has a legitimate interest in bringing him back, there is that possibility." 

For now, the Phillies appear to be in a holding pattern and it seems the club has some internal decision-making that has to happen before making any serious roster moves. 

"I didn't expect to be here in year five and still be under .500," MacPhail said. "That is a severe disappointment to me. I don't know why we play like we do at the end of September for the last three years, but I thought our team was relatively well-positioned to go to the postseason. It did not."
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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