Phillies Mailbag: MacPhail and the GM, Realmuto, Pitching
The Phillies season is over, but we are back with another 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. This offseason will be much different for the Phillies, as they need to address their GM position and make some substantial decisions for their roster. This week's mailbag addresses some of those questions.
Why didn't the Phillies let Andy MacPhail go, too?
I would not personally read too much into Andy MacPhail sticking around. MacPhail joined the Phillies in 2015 as the new club president and has one more year on his contract. suspect that MacPhail's job could be over at the end of his current contract.
I think the Phillies, like many teams, are in a tough place. There have been reports around baseball that many teams are going to be shedding payroll this offseason. The Texas Rangers recently suggested that they will pare $50 mill ion in 2021. The St. Louis Cardinals blog Viva Los Birdos points to the payroll drop from 2008 to 2009 during the recession and a look at what's ahead.
Does the team really need to shed a club president's salary and eat it? I think that there will be a hire of some sort. It could be someone with a "president of baseball operations" type of title, too. If there is someone to push the buttons on a baseball operations level, then there might be no need to replace MacPhail at this time, perhaps because he is set to retire at season's end anyway.
Matt Gelb of the Athletic laid out the scenario:
If the Phillies widen their search to include that type of job, they might attract different candidates. They could hire someone who would take a far more active role than MacPhail did with Klentak — MacPhail’s approach was best described as a “hands-off,” with the idea that the general manager should grow without interference — and by advertising this job, they could tap into a higher-level pool. Some teams will not grant a general manager permission to interview elsewhere unless a promotion is promised. In this case, by offering a president of baseball operations title, the Phillies could reach those hypothetical candidates.
That could mean that Ned Rice is the "acting general manager" for the year.
Or perhaps MacPhail has to be more hands-on this year. I could even see the Phillies waiting to make any long-term decisions because of the economic climate. The Eagles and Steelers could have 7,500 fans in attendance this week. That is 10% of the capacity and 10% of the revenue. 2021 could be a sort of transitional year for most clubs.
What will Matt Klentak's absence mean for J.T. Realmuto's deal?
Phillies fans want J.T. Realmuto back. That should not be a surprise to anyone. The Phillies no longer have Matt Klentak as general manager. I think that means fans will judge the new regime in terms of whether Realmuto re-signs. I would caution fans not to do that.
John Stolnis of the Good Phight argues that the Phillies already lost the Realmuto trade. Sixto Sanchez is winning playoff games for the Marlins. Realmuto made the playoffs zero times in the two years with the Phillies.
It could have been that Klentak felt that he had a better shot of an extension with Realmuto at the time of the trade. But Klentak's tenure ended without one done. The person coming in has to assess the situation.
Could the Phillies be better off improving other areas? No, there will not be a catcher that plays to his level. Period. But are there other opportunities out there the Phillies can take advantage of in other positions? This offseason will be tricky to navigate.
If Realmuto is on the New York Mets in 2021 but the Phillies make the playoffs, is that improvement? If the Phillies swing a trade for a star at another position? Take advantage of the economic climate to add someone's high-priced player that is still very good?
If anything, Klentak leaving in a way takes the pressure off the incoming decision-maker. If that front office member does not re-sign Realmuto, it can always be the fault of the past general manager. But, if that new front office member does a better job and gets the Phillies deep into the playoffs?
Maybe that's better.
Where will the Phillies find pitching this offseason?
The Phillies need to essentially completely tear down the historically bad 2020 bullpen and start from scratch. The Phillies will see Brandon Workman walk as a free agent. Heath Hembree can be a non-tender. Tommy Hunter is a free agent.
In the rotation, Vince Velasquez could be a non-tender. Jake Arrieta is done as a Phillie as he hits free agency.
I know the Phillies lost a lot of money in 2020. But if they have long-term financial security I would get pitching two ways:
First, I would try to take a higher-priced arm from another team that is still of quality. I do not know who that is right now. But there are teams who will be struggling to unload payroll. The Phillies should take advantage.
Second, I think there will be a lot of value in the middle-of-the-road arms. Past interests like Robby Ray and Mike Minor won't get lucrative deals. Some teams might decide to try a rookie instead. They'll be in the middle and might be the bargains of the offseason. The more bargains available, the better.
What will the likes of Alex Colome cost? Maybe he could take a deal similar to the expiring David Robertson contract.
There could be some unique opportunities if the Phillies are active.