Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Klentak preaches patience in Phils' rebuild

GM says club needs to solidify 'competitive core' before pursuing big-name free agents
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made their pitch to Shohei Ohtani, like every other team in baseball. They contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, like any organization with a strong farm system and deep pockets.

Ohtani had narrowed his list of finalists to seven teams before he settled on the Angels, but not a single one was on the East Coast. He also seemed to prefer small market teams and the American League, where he can pitch and still get relatively frequent plate appearances as a designated hitter.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made their pitch to Shohei Ohtani, like every other team in baseball. They contacted the Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, like any organization with a strong farm system and deep pockets.

Ohtani had narrowed his list of finalists to seven teams before he settled on the Angels, but not a single one was on the East Coast. He also seemed to prefer small market teams and the American League, where he can pitch and still get relatively frequent plate appearances as a designated hitter.

But even before those reports surfaced, the Phillies had concerns about emptying their farm system and taking on a massive contract for 10 more seasons. After all, couldn't they just spend that money next offseason, without giving up the prospects, when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are available?

But the lack of interest in the Phillies from Ohtani and Stanton should not cause Phillies fans to fret -- their situations have no bearing on Philadelphia's future opportunities to acquire superstar talent. The Phillies are expected to begin that pursuit next offseason in what is widely regarded as a far superior free-agent class to this one.

Remember, Jim Thome signed with the Phillies in November 2002 because the Phillies offered him the most money. And a host of talented players beat down the Phillies' door trying to join Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels from 2007-11.

"This ownership has demonstrated over the years that they will spend when it's time to spend," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Friday afternoon at Bethesda Project's Our Brothers' Place, where the front office donated, made and served meals to approximately 200 homeless people. "There are many years of high payrolls and big contracts to support that. Players know that. Agents know that.

"Around the league, people are taking note of the fact that we are developing a young core of players that's improving at the Major League level and making progress. And there will come a point when it is time to add significant outside players to that core, to supplement it the same way it happened 10 years ago. The team added [Roy] Halladay or [Cliff] Lee or [Brad] Lidge or [Hunter] Pence. It's a very similar narrative, but we have to do our job first and get our young players to a point where we've created that competitive core, and then we can add onto it."

• Phils used 2010 Winter Meetings to build epic rotation

Klentak said the Phillies are in the midst of numerous discussions with free agents and teams.

"My expectation is that the market in general -- not so much the Phillies -- is going to open up over the next couple days, or certainly next week," he said.

The Phillies need pitching help. If they cannot find a quality starter they could acquire multiple relievers to boost the bullpen.

"Hopefully we'll be able to push something over the goal line in the next week," Klentak said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies