PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies president Andy MacPhail said last month that the club is not rushing to find a new president of baseball operations or general manager because any moves made over the next several weeks would be relatively minor in nature -- and because he wondered if anybody would want to uproot and move in a pandemic.
The search for Matt Klentak’s replacement, MacPhail said, could run into 2021.
Perhaps it is coincidence, but the Phillies seem to be pushing ahead. The Athletic reported on Friday night that the Phillies are expected to begin interviews as early as next week with candidates to lead their baseball operations department. The organization, according to The Athletic’s report, appears to be looking for “experienced, highly regarded baseball people with proven, winning track records.”
Former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, former Giants general manager Brian Sabean, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and Twins general manager Thad Levine are a few names that fit that description. But the Athletic also reported the Phillies are considering “rising front-office stars” who aren’t as well known.
Regardless, it is an important offseason for the Phillies, and not only because catcher J.T. Realmuto is a free agent. The Phillies have not had a winning record or reached the postseason since 2011, which ultimately cost Klentak his job. A fresh set of eyes on the Phillies’ operations would seem to serve them well.
The Phillies have Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and others in their prime. They cannot afford to waste even one year of that, which is why some around baseball have questioned why the Phillies wouldn’t want to hire their next leader as soon as possible, even if he or she has to conduct business via Zoom and telephone.
In the meantime, Ned Rice is the Phillies’ interim general manager. He was Klentak’s right-hand man for the past five years. MacPhail is an advocate for Rice and said he believes Rice could handle the job into next year, if needed.
Perhaps it doesn’t get to that point.
“We’ve already gone through the preliminary stages of a search,” MacPhail said a couple weeks ago. “We’ve already identified people. Like I said, if what is easily apparent to us is a good fit that is there right away, we’ll move right away. But I could see this thing going longer.”