Phillies Mailbag: Manager Candidates, Timeline, Payroll
The Phillies offseason is officially underway. With no manager yet in the fold, the Phillies have much work to do. This is the first installment of the offseason Phillies mailbag.
Which of the managerial candidates do you think will get the job?
Right now the search is a little too early to draw any real conclusions. So far, three candidates have been identified by Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia: Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina, former Mariners bench coach Tim Bogar, and former Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. My gut would tend to connect Klentak to those whom Klentak has worked with in the past.
Many have connected the Phillies to Twins-connected baseball people such as Ron Gardenhire, but in a press conference on Tuesday, Phillies President Andy MacPhail seemed to indicate that Klentak is in the driver's seat. That could mean that it is a matter of who Klentak is most comfortable with in the manager's seat.
This is not based in anything I have heard thus far, but I think that DiSarcina would be the leading candidate before any interviews are done. DiSarcina worked with the Angels, left to manage Triple-A Pawtucket, then returned to the Angels in 2013 to be third base and first base coach before taking the bench coach position under Red Sox manager John Farrell in 2017.
DiSarcina left the Angels not too long after both general manager Jerry Dipoto left for the Seattle Mariners. Klentak left his assistant general manager role for the Phillies. That seems to mean that DiSarcina may align with Dipoto/Klentak.
It is just a guess, but I think DiSarcina would be my early favorite of the names that came to light.
When will the Phillies find a new manager?
The Phillies have a lot of work to do before the 2018 season begins. The Phillies reportedly will shop infielders Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez to make room for the younger J.P. Crawford and ultimately Scott Kingery. The Phillies need starting pitching. But ideally the Phillies will have a manager to help lead the way. That could sitll be a couple months.
Yesterday, Phillies president MacPhail said that he hoped that the Phillies would have a manager in place prior to the Winter Meetings. This year's meetings take place at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida December 10th through 14th. But there is a more practical consideration: the playoffs.
The Phillies cannot interview DiSarcina until the Boston Red Sox are eliminated from the 2017 playoffs. The Phillies had Charlie Manuel in place on November 4, 2004, after interviewing several candidates. The Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin hires were not during typical timelines, of course. This season's World Series will conclude by November 1. Typically, such announcements are not made during the World Series.
All this considered, I would guess the Phillies would make an announcement either prior to the World Series or within days of its conclusion, depending on the availability of candidates to interview.
Why would the Phillies have a low payroll? They have money to spend!
Mary is likely referring to comments made by Phillies president Andy MacPhail on Tuesday, that the Phillies are likely to have a low payroll next season. However, fans should not be worried that it is a matter of being cheap. Simply put: the Phillies have too many players on their rookie contracts that they will have a low payroll for that reason.
The good news is that MacPhail said that team will use their resources wisely and spend in other areas. Among things MacPhail mentioned specificially include upgrades at Citizens Bank Park and upgrades to the "fan experience". But MacPhail also said that the Phillies were aware of the advantage that they have thanks to the low-paid players on the roster.
The Atlanta Braves are involved in a bit of a scandal at the moment, which led to the resignation of John Coppolella as Braves general manager. This could be the first of many problems for the Braves. The move could make one or more of the top Braves prospects free agents.
One of those prospects, Kevin Maitan, got $4.25 million when he signed with the Braves. If he is declared a free agent, he would be free to sign with any team for any amount. Of that, only $300,000 would be applied to the signing bonus pool of the signing team.
The Phillies, who acquired some international signing bonus dollars at the July 31 trade deadline, have bonus pool money to spend and other money to spend. They may be able to outspend other teams to acquire some of the new free agents. It will only cost them money.
The Phillies may look to add payroll from other teams if prospects are attached, or take advantage of a team deperate to shed payroll. But those additions will not mean the Phillies are around their luxury tax level. The highest-paid Phillies player in 2018 is set to be Odubel Herrera at $3.350 million. But the rookie contracts will be rookie contracts and the Phillies will find other ways to spend their money while they are what they are.