A new report from The Athletic’s Matt Gelb delivered some interesting news as Phillies fans awoke from the team’s best victory of the season this morning. General manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail recently signed three-year contract extensions.
Make sure to read Matt’s piece for full details, but in short, Klentak reportedly signed his deal in March after the Harper signing, taking him through the 2022 season, and MacPhail signed his in 2017, taking him through 2021.
Why the Phillies decided to keep these moves a secret is interesting, specifically Klentak’s. Most fans would have likely cheered that extension in the wake of what was perceived to be a solid off-season. But like many teams, the Phils keep most of these kinds of deals under wraps, away from the public eye.
Klentak and MacPhail have come under scrutiny lately for the team’s play. After last night’s thrilling 9-8 victory over the Dodgers, the Phils are still just 16-24 in their last 40 games, but they do hold the final wild card spot, thanks to a jumbled National League field that has everyone grasping at straws. And while being under contract certainly provides some security, it does not mean changes can’t be made.
However, the Phillies have long preached patience, and it’s likely that patience extends to the team’s top two front office officials. The Phils began their rebuild in earnest in 2015, making this the fourth year after the start of the rebuild. The team spent more than half a billion dollars in contracts to free agents this off-season, but it’s clear more work still needs to be done. Years of poor results from the draft and the promotion of prospects, many of whom have not panned out, has left the team with a weak farm system and only a handful of young players to build around.
But there is some youth here. Harper is still just 27 years old, with years of his prime left in front of him. Rhys Hoskins has been rock steady in his second full season with the team, and he appears to be a mainstay. Scott Kingery’s emergence as a true building block has also been encouraging, and Aaron Nola remains the team’s home grown ace starter.
But the team has also suffered a combination of under-performance and bad luck this season. Losing Andrew McCutchen was a killer, the high priced veteran relievers the team has signed the last two off-seasons — Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Juan Nicasio and David Robertson — have all missed significant chunks of the season, and the failure of Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez or Zach Eflin to emerge as a true, middle-of-the-rotation arm has shined a glaring light on Klentak’s decision to ignore the starting rotation this off-season.
Nevertheless, the Phils have hitched their wagons to the Klentak-MacPhail combo, and have to hope their patience will be rewarded.