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Phillies moves signal Ruben Amaro isn't going anywhere

Ruben Amaro is a lame duck general manager, but you'd hardly know it based on the team's moves over the last year.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies' signing of Kevin Correia to a free agent Major League contract is telling in a few ways.

First, it speaks volumes about the performance of Severino Gonzalez, who was optioned back to Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

Second, it speaks volumes about the state of the the team's not-so-Major League ready arms in Triple-A, as I outlined in my Correia piece Monday afternoon.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it speaks volumes about the future of the team's general manager, Ruben Amaro.

Amaro is supposedly a lame-duck GM. He is in the last year of his contract and is piloting a team that is on pace to lose 95-100 games. He is not well-regarded by the national media and the fans. And much of the blame for the state of the team falls in his lap, as well as the laps of team president Pat Gillick and the former president David Montgomery.

But when the Phils signed Correia to a Major League deal on Monday, Amaro and Gillick once again resisted the urge to rush one of their younger arms to the Majors. They resisted the urge to promote Aaron Nola or Zach Eflin, two starters with gaudy Double-A numbers who are short on experience. And they resisted the urge to promote Phillippe Aumont, who has been effective but wild this year and is, quite frankly, not someone anyone should depend on to save a young bullpen additional innings.

Instead, they went out and signed a guy who is just going to soak up innings and probably give up lots of runs, knowing it was a move that would be unpopular with the fanbase and the national media. On Twitter, the pitchforks were out almost immediately and, admittedly, I was reaching for mine as well.

But here's the thing. Ruben Amaro did not do the thing that a desperate, lame-duck GM who is trying to save his job would do. He did not mortgage the future or try to make a risky move that may have made the fans happy but ultimately could prove to be a worse long-term move for the team.

So what does that tell us? Either Amaro is no longer calling the shots and Gillick is running the show with Amaro as a figurehead, or Amaro feels pretty confident that he's going to be here after this season and continue to direct the rebuild.

It's possible the team could be looking at replacing Amaro as GM but at the same time promoting him to a more senior position with the franchise, perhaps elevating him to team president and giving Gillick a different title. In that scenario, Amaro would still be invested in the team's long-term future, but the Phillies would also have a new general manager to conduct the day-to-day operations of the team's personnel.

Or, perhaps Amaro has been privately assured that he will remain the Phils' GM for at least another season. That's not a move that would sit well with fans, and it's certainly a move that would be mocked by the national media. But it would make sense considering the Phillies are apparently letting Amaro continue to be the man who decides where Cole Hamels will end up.

Hamels, as we all know, is the team's best trade chip and is their best opportunity to get a top-notch prospect back in order to replenish the farm system. It's definitely weird that a general manager on the last year of his contract would be in charge of a move with such long-term implications, unless that GM is pretty sure he's not going anywhere anytime soon.

The signing of Kevin Correia doesn't move the needle on the field all that much. It's hopefully going to save some wear and tear on the bullpen, but it's not going to change the result in terms of wins and losses. But it is another reminder, and perhaps the best indication thus far, that Amaro is not doing what a GM who is fighting for his job would typically do.

Amaro is not swinging wildly for the fences in the hopes of hitting a job-saving grand slam. He's making the type of little moves that a general manager with job security would make.

Maybe I'm nuts, but I think Ruben Amaro is back with the Phillies in 2016.