It’s the worst-kept secret in the sport.
If Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak had his way, Gabe Kapler would have returned for a third season as the team’s manager in 2020. He didn’t, as managing partner John Middleton ultimately determined that a change was necessary. That change came in the form of Joe Girardi, who there seems to have been internal agreement on hiring.
But Klentak still hopes that Kapler gets the opportunity to manage next season.
“This is not a secret, you guys know…Phillies employees know…the fans know…the players know – that I’m a big Gabe Kapler fan,” Klentak said Thursday to Joe Decamara and Jon Ritchie on SportsRadio 94 WIP. “I still am. I’m rooting for him to hopefully get the [San Francisc] Giants job, and go on to great things.”
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported in late October that Kapler was one of three finalists for the Giants managerial vacancy, along with Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Kansas City Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol. Pavlovic went as far as saying that “Kapler has at points been the favorite in the process.”
It’s hardly a surprise that Kapler is a serious candidate in San Francisco. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was previously the Los Angeles Dodgers general manager. Prior to becoming the Phillies manager in October of 2017, Kapler was the director of player development for the Dodgers. Kapler did interview for the Dodgers managerial vacancy when the team parted ways with Don Mattingly after the 2015 season. Had Zaidi and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman been the only voices that mattered in said search, Kapler may very well have become the Dodgers manager ahead of the 2016 season. Other influential voices factored into the decision, though, and ultimately Dave Roberts was hired to fill the position.
In two seasons with Kapler as their manager, the Phillies went 161-163. After Phillies brass – Middleton specifically – deliberated for over 10 days after the season, Kapler was ultimately fired with one year remaining on his contract.
While Klentak may have been in favor of retaining Kapler, he said Thursday that he understands the factors that led to Middleton feeling that a change made the most sense.
“Having said that, I get it,” Klentak continued. “I get that when you have a team that doesn’t perform up to expectations for two years in a row and has a couple of September collapses, particularly in a big market like Philadelphia, why the changes happen.”
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