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Could Phils make their big hires before '21?

@ToddZolecki
November 30, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe the Phillies will not wait until 2021 to find a new president of baseball operations. After Phillies managing partner John Middleton and president Andy MacPhail said last month that they might not find Matt Klentak’s replacement until next year -- a timeline that theoretically runs from New

PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe the Phillies will not wait until 2021 to find a new president of baseball operations.

After Phillies managing partner John Middleton and president Andy MacPhail said last month that they might not find Matt Klentak’s replacement until next year -- a timeline that theoretically runs from New Year’s Day through next November -- a recent report has the Phillies interviewing multiple candidates for either president of baseball operations or general manager jobs over the past week. The Athletic reported Friday that a second round of interviews could begin this week.

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Known candidates include former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes. Dodgers assistant general manager Jeff Kingston also is a candidate, according to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. Former Giants executive Brian Sabean, Twins general manager Thad Levine, Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch, former Dodgers executive Ned Colletti, Royals assistant general manager J.J. Piccolo and others continued to be mentioned as possibilities, either as president of baseball operations or GM.

Theo Epstein is not interested in the job, The Athletic reported. He is taking a year off after recently leaving his position with the Cubs.

MacPhail said last month why the Phillies were not rushing to hire anybody.

“Who’s going to want to uproot in the middle of a pandemic?” he said. “You want the next regime to do well. You want to put them in a position to succeed. In my estimation, if you brought somebody in here right now with a limited capacity that they could affect positive change, it’s just borderline not fair to them.”

MacPhail also said the Phillies did not plan to be aggressive in an expectedly slow-moving free-agent market, making interim general manager Ned Rice capable of making transactions for the foreseeable future, including Wednesday, when the Phillies have to tender contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration.

“There won’t be a significant move made without it going through me and John,” MacPhail said. “At this time, almost every club, honestly, it’s more about reduction of players than it is adding. … The likelihood of a significant add, I think in the short term or even midterm is not very high.”

The Braves, however, have signed right-hander Charlie Morton and left-hander Drew Smyly in the past couple weeks. Atlanta has been aggressive in the free-agent market the past couple years, and it has paid off.

The Mets seem to be champing at the bit under new owner Steve Cohen. Reports have them targeting the Big Four free agents: Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and DJ LeMahieu. They will not get all of them, but they might get two.

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Meanwhile, the Phillies are not optimistic they will re-sign Realmuto. The Phillies said they have lost around $150 million this year, which is why they recently cut their workforce by at least 80 people. If the Phillies plan to shed big league payroll, it might behoove them to hire somebody sooner rather than later. A new leader might have better luck finding diamonds in the rough to fill out the roster, something MacPhail acknowledged has been a shortcoming of the Phillies the past few years.

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