The Phillies’ choice of Gabe Kapler as manager has drawn mixed reviews from around the game, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, as Kapler’s unique approaches to baseball have brought him praise as an innovative thinker but also led to clashes with some players and personnel within the Dodgers organization. It should be noted that this didn’t extend to Dodgers front office heads Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi, both of whom are big fans of Kapler and made calls to the Mets and Phillies recommending him for their managerial openings. The Dodgers themselves almost hired Kapler as manager two years ago, though the fact that some players reportedly lobbied the team to instead go with Dave Roberts also stands out as a possible red flag. The article is well worth a full read to get a sense of the criticisms lobbied against Kapler, and why the Phillies’ hire “may be the biggest gamble of the winter.”
Some more from Heyman, as per his latest collection of notes from around baseball…
- The Royals’ pursuit of Eric Hosmer could decide their immediate future, as the team could decide to forego re-signing any of their other free agents and rebuild if Hosmer can’t be brought back into the fold. It will take a sizeable offer to re-sign Hosmer, however, and while K.C. has been willing to spend to keep is championship window open, “their payroll is starting to press the limits.”
- Ian Kennedy won’t exercise his opt-out clause, and will remain with the Royals for the three years and $49MM remaining on his contract. While no official announcement has come from Kennedy or the team, the decision is an unsurprising one given the righty’s subpar season. Kennedy said himself in September that “it would be pretty stupid” to head into free agency on the heels of an injury-hampered year that saw Kennedy post a 5.38 ERA over 154 innings.
- Jayson Werth could potentially return to the Nationals on a one-year deal. Werth was hitting a solid .262/.367/.446 through his first 196 PA before missing almost three months due to a fracture in his left foot. He still seemed bothered by the injury after his return, leading to subpar numbers down the stretch. The Nats could conceivably use Adam Eaton as both a left fielder and center fielder next year, opening up playing time for Werth or Michael Taylor to fill whatever position Eaton isn’t occupying on any given day.
- Raul Ibanez was seen as a potentially strong contender to become the Yankees’ next manager, though Ibanez reportedly likes his current position with the Dodgers (special advisor to Andrew Friedman) and doesn’t want to leave. Yankees GM Brian Cashman reportedly has 20-25 names on his list of managerial candidates.
- Newly-hired Giants VP of player development David Bell could potentially be a candidate to eventually take over the manager’s job from Bruce Bochy. Bell previously worked on the Cardinals’ and Cubs’ coaching staffs and worked as a manager in the Reds’ farm system, not to mention his 12-year career as a player. Bench coach Hensley Meulens has also been often cited as Bochy’s heir apparent. Bochy’s current contract runs through the 2019 season, and while his track record has likely given him the job as long as he wants, he also turns 63 in April and has dealt with some health issues in recent years.