If Gabe Kapler watch began the first day of the offseason, welcome to day nine of Kapler watch. Realistically, an internal debate on his future had to have begun prior to that. The Washington Nationals officially eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies from postseason contention on Sept. 24. At no point during the final month of the season (at least) did it feel likely that the Phillies were going to make the postseason.
Perhaps a decision on the future of Kapler – who is under contract for 2020 – will come Tuesday. In the meantime, it does appear that the bulk of Kapler’s 2019 staff will be back with the next season regardless of whether he is or not.
Per Matt Gelb of The Athletic, seven coaches from Kapler’s 2019 staff will return in 2020. Kapler had a nine-coach staff in 2019, and MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki reported last week that Chris Young wouldn’t return as the hitting coach in 2020. Franchise icon Charlie Manuel was just the interim hitting coach, with no expectation from either him or the Phillies that he would remain in that role after the 2019 season wrapped up. So, by the process of elimination, it appears that these seven coaches will return; bench coach Rob Thomson, third base coach Dusty Wathan, first base coach Paco Figueroa, assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero, assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist, infield coach Bobby Dickerson and bullpen coach Jim Gott.
Gelb did note that if the Phillies make a chance at manager and a managerial candidate is hell-bent on bringing in one of his own guys – a bench coach, for example – the Phillies could still fire whoever fills that role currently. They would be on the hook to pay them for the 2020 season, though.
Not only could indecision hurt the Phillies in a potential managerial search, it could limit what candidates they are ultimately able to pursue to become the hitting coach or pitching coach. That dynamic exists if Kapler returns, but certainly if he doesn’t and a managerial search first needs to take place.
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