Fuld 'really ecstatic' to be new Phillies GM

December 23rd, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Sam Fuld’s post-playing career took an upward trajectory the moment he joined the Phillies in 2017.

It ascended further Tuesday, when Philadelphia president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski named Fuld the club's new general manager. Fuld, 39, spent the past three years in various roles with the Phillies, but his promotion makes him Dombrowski’s top lieutenant. Dombrowski will be Philadelphia's guiding force and top decision-maker, but Fuld’s new role cements his rising-star status in the minds of top Phillies officials and others across baseball.

It also signals a small shift from the Andy MacPhail-Matt Klentak regime with Dombrowski choosing Fuld over other internal options, like Klentak’s top lieutenants, assistant general managers Ned Rice and Bryan Minniti, although Dombrowski said their roles and responsibilities with the Phillies have not changed.

Dombrowski also promoted Jorge Velandia to assistant general manager and Terry Ryan to special assistant to the general manager.

“He’s a good complement to myself,” Dombrowski said of Fuld. “It’s a situation where I am by no means adverse to the analytical approach and anything that can make us better, but I think Sam is much more intelligent in those areas than I am. … In Sam’s case, he’ll assist me with everything that takes place. He’ll be involved in everything that happens at the big league level.

"But also, he’ll be in a position where I really want him to focus on ... the organizations that are progressive now, that are doing every little thing they can to get better, I look for Sam to be able to benefit us there and bring some of those ideas and thoughts to us.”

Earlier this month, Dombrowski seemed uncertain if he would hire a general manager. But he said Fuld impressed him in an interview for the job. Dombrowski interviewed no external candidates, which he said was his choice.

Fuld played eight seasons with the Cubs, Rays, A’s and Twins from 2007-15. He joined the Phillies as their Major League player information coordinator in '17, essentially integrating analytics into game-planning while serving as former manager Gabe Kapler’s outfield instructor. Fuld became Philadelphia's director of integrative baseball performance last January. The department focuses on sports science.

Fuld has been a hot commodity on the job market the past few offseasons. He was a finalist for the recent Red Sox managerial vacancy, which went to Alex Cora. Fuld previously interviewed or turned down other opportunities for managerial vacancies. The Stanford graduate’s resume as a former player with an affinity for analytics has made him attractive to front offices across baseball. 

“I’m really ecstatic to get to work under [Dombrowski] and work for him and in any way that I can make him better from my own experiences, whether that’s as a player or in ways that I’ve been exposed to some of the newer ideas and methodologies in this game. I'm really excited to do that,” Fuld said. “I’m excited to put another ring on his finger. I know he’s got a couple already, and I want him to have more and I want to have one myself. I didn't get an opportunity as a player to put one on. I played in the playoffs a few times, but I am really hungry, really thirsty for a championship. I know a lot of Phillies fans out there are, too.”

Asked where he thinks the Phillies need to change, based on his experience the past three years, Fuld was diplomatic. 

“I think any time you go through a transition in which we have over the last few years, there's challenges,” Fuld said. “There are bumps in the road that are inevitable. I am excited about continuing to integrate our departments. There is so much information out there. We went from an organization that didn't rely upon the information in the way that we do now. I'm glad that we've made that transition.

"But with it comes challenges. There's a lot of information. It can be overwhelming. I think the really good organizations are able to take that information, synthesize it and digest it and create good ways of evaluating players and developing players. I'm excited about helping that process forward. I think we've made strides in that area. But I think we can continue to push in that direction. Hopefully, I can help along the way.”

Dombrowski said he will continue to consult with president Andy MacPhail on baseball matters, but MacPhail has reminded him that baseball decisions are Dombrowski's to make. MacPhail has been hands-off in baseball decisions since he hired Klentak in October 2015. MacPhail's contract expires at the end of the 2021 season, and he said he will not return.

Dombrowski also said Klentak, who remains with the organization, is not part of the day-to-day operations. But he said, “We can talk to Matt and consult on anything we would like.”

But the promotions of Fuld, Velandia and Ryan signal that things will be different moving forward. Dombrowski sees big things in Fuld’s future.

“I just started with the Phillies organization, I have a lot of energy and I look to do this for a while,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not, though, 44. I’m 64. And if I’m doing my job correctly, and we’re doing our job correctly, as Sam progresses, he will be the guy making those types of decisions, the final decisions.

"That’s where my goal is. I really like to work with young individuals that you can mentor, and so I think it’s a lot of fun to do that. And that’s my goal -- to be in a position that whenever that time comes, and again, it’s not for a little while down the road, but that’s what the goal is. They’ll participate in everything that we do, and that time will come at some point.”