It doesn’t seem that a decision on the future of manager Gabe Kapler is imminent.
In fact, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia says that managing partner John Middleton hasn’t decided whether Kapler will return as the Philadelphia Phillies manager in 2020 and is unlikely to decide before next week. Jayson Stark of The Athletic echoed similar sentiments Wednesday.
At this stage, you get the sense that the Middleton is weighing the Phillies organizational structure as a whole. The club is 161-163 under Kapler, who is under contract for 2020. But regardless of your assessment of the job Kapler has done in two seasons as Phillies manager, it’s hard to say he’s been handed a playoff roster in 2018 or 2019, especially in terms of the team’s starting pitching.
That said, making a change at manager is much easier than overhauling your front office. The Phillies fired Ruben Amaro Jr. as general manager on Sept. 10, 2015, giving them the necessary time to search for the person that would lead their organization. (Also worth noting is that the Phillies didn’t plan to be as active in terms of free-agency and trades that year as they probably will be this offseason.) Moving on from a general manager and/or president is usually something that’s months, if not years, in the making. It’s not usually something you decide to do a week after the regular season ends. It would seem especially strange considering the Phillies gave general manager Matt Klentak an extension earlier this year.
Of course, changes could be made to the structure of the front office without it completely being overhauled. But Klentak is under contract through 2022, and president Andy MacPhail is signed through 2021.
If Kapler is ultimately retained, it’s hard to think he would come back as a lame duck after the team so clearly weighed moving on from him. That doesn’t mean that the Phillies couldn’t ultimately pull the plug on Kapler if the team again fell short of expectations in 2020, but bringing him back on the final year of his contract (as opposed to tacking a year or two onto his contract) would create a distraction. Middleton may still decide not to bring him back in any form, which appeared to be the most likely conclusion on the final day of the season.
While the Phillies take their time on deciding Kapler’s future, the rest of the league isn’t waiting. The New York Mets fired manager Mickey Callaway Thursday, meaning there are now seven managerial vacancies. The longer the Phillies wait, the more they risk losing out on potential candidates should they ultimately choose to go in another direction at manager.
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