Phillies GM Matt Klentak stepped down on Saturday after five seasons running baseball operations in Philadelphia. Despite making an impact on the hot stove with significant free agent spending on stars like Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen. The trade for J.T. Realmuto brought in the premier catcher in the game, one of just a couple of backstops capable of managing a staff while wielding a middle-of-the-order bat. He also brought in presumptive third baseman of the present-and-future Alec Bohm with the third overall pick of the 2018 draft.
Klentak’s record wasn’t spotless. The David Robertson signing fell apart due to injuries. He doled out large sums to Michael Saunders and Carlos Santana, only to move on after disappointing starts. First overall draft pick in 2016 Mickey Moniak hasn’t developed into a superstar as one might expect from a 1-1 pick.
But the darkest mark on Klentak’s record was a failure to make the playoffs during his five years in charge. The Phillies have the second-longest playoff drought in the game. Despite many successful moves, the Phillies disappointed year after year, leaving principal owner John Middleton somewhat befuddled. As successful as Realmuto has been for the Phillies, for example, Sixto Sánchez’s success has to be particularly galling. One of the pieces used to acquire Realmuto from Miami, Sánchez helped the Marlins leapfrog the Phillies into the playoffs this year. Realmuto’s time in Philadelphia, meanwhile, could already be reaching an end – he’s an unrestricted free agent this winter.
With Klentak demoted, the Phillies are considering their options for how to fill out the head of the baseball operations department moving forward. They could look to hire a head of baseball operations as well as a GM. They could wait to bring in a head of baseball ops until Team President Andy MacPhail retires at the end of 2021, per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb. MacPhail’s impending retirement is very much a part of Middelton’s decision-making.
The pandemic complicates all significant hiring decisions, of course, and it could be some time until the Phillies make a final decision. There was a roughly 6-week hiring process to bring in Klentak, but his replacement could take more than a year to find, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). 37-year-old Ned Rice has been elevated to the interim GM position for now, and it’s on the table that Rice could serve in the role for the entirety of next season.
Middleton spoke highly of Rice, saying in a quote provided by Gelb, “One of the reasons that we chose Ned is because he has by far the most breadth of experience in the organization other than Matt and frankly the most depth as well. For example, he put together the presentation for Bryce Harper when we flew out to Las Vegas the first time. He was involved with all the meetings, discussing strategy and tactics of when to make offers and what the offer should be, analyzing the offers that Scott (Boras) put out and how we should respond. He has significant experience, and his input in that process is invaluable.”
On the surface the process might feel disjointed, but it’s entirely within the realm of reasonable solutions for the Phillies to take their time in deciding the management structure moving forward, especially considering the complicated nature of a mixed-bag tenure like Klentak’s. Middleton remains the unequivocal head of the organization and traditional concerns about continuity and organizational clarity are mitigated somewhat because of the presence of MacPhail and Rice. More important for the Phillies is that whoever comes in next has a clear plan in place with benchmarks that Middleton can use to measure the success of the program.
Macfail leaving is a good thing. All I have to say is that the Phillies are a complete mess. Why in the world would it take a year to hire a GM? In the history of baseball, who has ever taken that long? Middleton is a wreck.
Middleton issue is he rather throw money at it. He doesn’t care for draft and develop. Look at teams like braves, Padres(all rebuilding around the same time as Phillies). Both playing in NLDS. Phillies still celebrating signing Harper.
A bit of a misconception as he tightened the purse strings after the Wheeler signing.
After signing deals with Santana, Harper, McCutchen, Arrieta, Robertson, and Gregorious worth a combined $670 million, it’s good to see the purse strings tighten.
Those strings best loosen this off-season if they want to bring back Realmuto on a nine-figure deal to a catcher in his 30’s. Y know, since those always work out.
it’s the absolute horrible drafting of cleantech is the reason we don’t have a farm system and we have to sign players when cleantech took over at the end of 2015 we had the seventh best farm system in baseball according to baseball America this year we were all way down to 23rd and that’s including Alec bone and Spencer Howard still being prospects take those two players off since they’re now in the big leagues and our farm system is probably one of the four worst in all baseball that’s why we have to spend money all the time to bring in players wish we had someone competent a drafting and developing as Tampa Bay Atlanta San Diego
Over the winter, once his pal JT signs elsewhere, just wait for Harper and Boras to start whining about being traded to a real contender.
I think phillies need to look at Bernie Williams. Great baseball guy. Great relationship with Joe and Phillies scouting director(Barber) lives in New York(so not far from family in philly). Also he is Latino. Phillies scouting could be a lot better with a more Latino influence in the front office. Make the call to Bernie. He is also a very smart baseball man.
I wonder if Middleton could get Erik Neander from tampa bay, I highly doubt it. I heard Tom Ricketts was meeting with Theo to discuss future, If the cubs let him go, how about go for Theo Epstein?
This is exactly what I’m thinking. Both the Angels and Phillies are waiting at the dinner table with napkins tucked under their collars as they wait for Epstein’s meeting with the owners next week.
To further your analogy, both Cubs ownership and Theo will probably each be holding a steak knife beneath the napkins in their laps. Who strikes first?
is he still making music? he’s really multi-talented.
Bernie is very committed to his music. Being a GM is a 24/7/365 job. He’s never expressed an interest in a front office role and I wonder if he has the right temperament for it. Beyond that, he’s been out of the game for years and he’d probably need to re-enter in a role lower than GM to show he could run a team as well as he could hit a baseball or play a guitar.
Nice man, though. Run across him several times a year when he plays outside NYC. Well, used to. Pre-COVID!
In the history of his career, no one ever called Bernie Williams a great baseball man. very talented guitarist, however.
Theo can be had in a trade.
Find the best organization at drafting over the past decade and poach one of their front office people. The Phillies are horrible when it comes to the draft and need to operated like a small market team in terms of scouting and drafting and then a big market team when it comes to resigning their players.
Imo that would be the dodgers , look at all the young players they have drafted and developed. Lux , Seager , Bellinger & Buhler
Neal Huntingdon should be considered.
Signed – lonely pirates fans
wild bill tetley
Had it not been for the Archer deal he’s probably still the GM.
Phils and the Mets; two huge revenue generators that are train wrecks. Meanwhile, the “bottom feeder” Marlins are in the playoffs.
The bar needs to be higher than the Marlins. They’re a great story this year, but they finished 2 games above .500 with a -41 run differential, the worst in the NL East. Great team to watch, but the Mets and Phillies need to be better than that.
In defense of the Marlins, that 29-9 loss to the Braves really skews their run differential in such a short season.
You take out that game, and they’re only -21. Still not good, but it’s a more accurate representation of their season.
Right, but -21 at 31 and 29 is still not great. I’m not saying the Marlins don’t deserve to be where they are. I’m saying with the Phillies talent and payroll, they need better results than that.
Like I said a month ago, that was going to be the final nail in the coffin. Theoretically, the trade is already a sunk cost, and should be judged on its own merits, at the time the trade was made.
But, as bad as missing the playoffs is, with a $200M+ payroll, watching the team with the $85M payroll go to the playoffs, led by the guy you traded to them, has to sting every time you turn on the TV.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say Sixto led the Marlins to the playoffs, but the main point of your post is still very valid. And Sixto has been good so that stings. The fact of the matter is the Phillies lost 5 of 7 to the Marlins. That’s the entire season right there. They can blame injuries all they want, but they looked pathetic in that 7-game stretch, and that is where their season ended.
Article states that Sixto helped leapfrog the Fish over the Phils and into the playoffs, not lead them.
Either way, and regardless how this season ends, this season has definitely accelerated the Marlins rebuild. Armed with a top 5 farm, next year Fish will have a full year of Isan, Lewis Diaz, Jazz, Sanchez and of course Jj bleday. Biggest focus should be fortifying the offense (Catcher)and Bullpen help for another postseason run next year.
The Starting rotation is strong led by Sandy, Sixto, and Pablo. With Cabrera, Garrett, Rogers, and last but certainly not least Meyers. Fish have enviable depth and talent. Something is Fish fans have not been able to say in quite awhile
Yup. The Fish are not a fluke, and have a lot of young talent. The NL East is super compe.
Had the COVID thing not happened with the Marlins right out of the gates, the Phillies with a hot Bryce Harper play two series with the Marlins that don’t have Sixto Sanchez or Starling Marte yet. Very likely the Phillies don’t bomb out as bad as the 2-5 performance of that re-designed series at the end of the season (and Hoskins doesn’t get hurt in a double header). Could have been an entirely different season without that.
Also the bullpen blowing 48 of the 60 games , that didn’t help either
Totally Don, but lots of teams dealt with hardships this year. The Phillies couldn’t overcome them. I can’t make excuses for that.
id like to take some out of the Yankees organization. they seem to have a good job at finding talent in odd places. oddly a lot of guys on their team they’ve found off the scrap heap. maybe dont let the guy you hire draft though, i dont trust their drafting.
Some team will probably look at a former Yankee person. Billy Eppler. He did some good things with the Angels after inheriting a mess. The biggest issue with the Angels is Artie Moreno. He’ll spend money on a flashy name or toy. He’d be better off turning the high payroll over to his GM and having him deploy the resources. Instead, he overrules. His money, fine, but the recent results speak volumes.
I don’t want Eppler. I want Middleton to bring in somebody that can bring a title to philly within the next 2 years.
That list may be much shorter for the Phillies than it might be for several other organizations… because of Middleton.
I like how all these articles write that Klentak made awesome signings. He did NOT make the Harper signing. That was Middleton, or as Middleton admitted in the quote mentioned in this article, Ned Rice worked with Middleton to pull off the Harper deal. It appears Klentak apparently had nothing to do with the deal. Arrieta deal, he overpaid for a player no other team was willing to pay for him. Robertson deal, got outsmarted by a player/self-agent. And finally, gave up long term top prospect Sixto for part time Realmuto, who now is headed for free agency and couldn’t be signed by Klentak.
Klentak is NOT as awesome as these writers like to talk him up to be.
They need to reshuffle a lot of the front office. Phillies need to bring in three people really. One who’s built a good record with drafting, one who’s built a good record in the IFA market, and one whos accepted the analytical approach to baseball.
You want a guy with a good draft record Id look at someone in the A’s front office or Cardinals.
You want IFA Padres front office or someone who has had a hand in the Pirates IFA market for many years.
Far as 2021 goes they need to fix the pen. There’s plenty of viable options to sign guys this off-season.
I’d throw player development in there as a huge key after the scouting and drafting.
Benchmarks? There’s only 1 benchmark. It’s called WINS
The Philadelphia Phillies: How NOT to run an organization.
First move any Future GM of the Phillies should make… Trade Rhys Hoskins for some pens, Expo Markers and see if they will throw in a few note pads
Don’t get the Hoskins hate. He was on fire before his season-ending injury. By walking all the time, he really helped out JT and Bryce as well.
Why not give Rice a chance? Just sayin?
How about Rice and Peas? Let’s give Peas a chance.
This was a nightmare to read.
Now John Middleton is saying that he was only on board with trading Sixto for Realmuto if they were able to extend Realmuto.
Frankly if that was the case, they should have made the trade contingent on an extension, like what the Reds did with Sonny Gray.
Gotta face facts. Marlins were not gonna trade Realmuto unless we gave them good value in return. I mean, really. You don’t think a Nick Williams, Andrew Knapp and Nick Pivetta was gonna get the deal done.
If we don’t re-sign Realmuto, the moaners and groaners are prepared to moan and groan until the day Sixto retires. But let’s not put Sixto in the HOF just yet. He looked good over his few starts, but small sample caveats apply.
Not shedding a tear about Klentak’s demotion. Thought for a long time he was in way over his head. Signing free agents with proven resumes is easy. Most of us could do that with someone else’s checkbook.
Development from within is paramount if you want a winner. In this area, the Phillies have been dismal. To wit, Aaron Nola is the first home grown starting pitcher of any consequence since Cole Hamels. Gotta do a much better job in the draft, especially since Klentak was drafting near the top of the line by virtue of the Phillies being a .500 or sub. 500 team during his tenure.
Bohm looks like he’s gonna be a fixture for years to come. Not so sure about Haseley or Moniak. Roman Quinn is no more than fourth or fifth outfielder. Gotta hope Spencer Howard is the real deal. Much ballyhooed coming into this year, but his results at the MLB level were less than stellar.
They should moan and groan even if JT stays. Phillies didn’t have to trade for him to be able to sign him.
The one problem with this comment is you’re ignoring 2 solid seasons of JT. I agree that it was a foolish trade, the team was clearly not ready yet, but we can’t ignore those two very productive seasons from JT. Sixto hasn’t accomplished that yet, although it seems likely he will.
I am not ignoring it at all. John Middleton is. Based on his comments in this article…
His only goal in trading for JT was to extend him. That is bad business for many reasons. Principally because JT signing an extension with the Phillies was never part of the deal. They were promised 2 years of JT in exchange for Sixto et al and that was what they got. And even if they are able to keep JT, unless he leaves money on the table to stay in Philly or publicly says that he was actively opposed to the idea of signing with the Phillies before they traded for him, then the Phillies probably would have been able to sign him without trading for him first.
The Phillies biggest problem is their lack of depth in their farm system. Drafting is one thing, player development is another. Of the three biggest sports a first round pick is least important in baseball. The possibility of being a late round pick in baseball and still being a star player is much more possible in baseball. The reverse is also true – you can be a first round pick and never make it to the majors. The fact the Phillies haven’t made the playoffs in so long and still have a very weak farm is inexcusable for a franchise that doesn’t mind spending money. Middleton should raid franchises like Atlanta and Oakland who know how to develop players and pay those guys at the top of the industry.
Middleton is too cheap to hire a new GM. Stupid money is over. From now on Middleton will run this organization like it’s a Dollar Tree on Aramingo. He spent money and it didn’t work, so he will now just stop spending, collect revenue sharing money from other teams, and just live off the fat from other teams.
He also knows there are enough sheep in this town that will still buy tickets and watch a crap product