"I've had one interview, but just one," MacPhail, the Phillies' incoming president, said about his GM search Tuesday afternoon at Marlins Park. "I would say [it's in the] early stages."
MacPhail declined to name the candidate, but he said he expects the process to begin in earnest immediately after the 2015 season. He said it remains his goal to hire Ruben Amaro Jr.'s replacement before the organizational meetings, which begin Oct. 26. But MacPhail also said it would be ambitious to find somebody by then.
"I know there are some teams out there that have openings and they're actively interviewing," MacPhail said, "but I'm pretty confident that there is a lot of talent out there that would make any organization better, if we decide to go external."
It is expected the Phillies will hire somebody outside the organization. One source told MLB.com in June that Angels assistant general manager Matt Klentak is an ideal candidate. MacPhail hired Klentak in March 2008, when MacPhail worked with the Orioles, making Klentak one of the youngest executives in baseball.
Klentak seems to fit Phillies owner John Middleton's profile a young up-and-coming baseball executive. Of course, there are others.
But MacPhail also has to address the team's roster.
"We're well aware of areas that we feel need to be improved," MacPhail said. "Absolutely we feel like we need to be active this offseason, trying to support the playing talent that's already on the field with areas that need to be improved."
But he also indicated it makes little sense to sign a high-priced free agent or two when the Phillies are just getting out of multiple high-end contracts. The players they acquire in the offseason are more likely to bridge the gap between a rebuilding team and a contending team.
"I'm going to give you a Dwight Eisenhower quote," MacPhail said. "He found when he went to battle that plans were useless, but planning was indispensable. So, we do plan. We have our planning, and our planning at this point is recognizing where we are. There is some talent that we have we think is viable talent, but it needs to come percolate and demonstrate that it's real. And after that period, you might go forward. But do you really want to commit after you've just been in that pool and suffered from it? Do you really want to commit at this stage? The only caveat I give you is that if there's a unique opportunity out there, I wouldn't want to preclude it from happening … particularly when you consider that once we get to '17 we are really pretty footloose and fancy free. We have a lot of latitude."
MacPhail also said nobody should worry about not being able to acquire talent down the road just because some are signed this offseason.
"I think you're always going to have that opportunity," he said. "Just like Texas did with [Cole] Hamels. Nobody necessarily predicted it, but to think that, 'gee, if we don't strike this year because there are these three, four pitchers out there, we'll never get another opportunity.' That is wrong. There are going to be other opportunities. But I think the important thing is to do it when that foundation is there that merits it and supports it."