We’re beginning to get some sense of what the Philadelphia Phillies’ search for their next lead front office executive could look like.
Sunday, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that the Phillies are “considering” J.J. Picollo, the vice president and assistant general manager of player personnel for the Kansas City Royals.
Indeed, RADIO.COM MLB Insider Jon Heyman said on the latest edition of “Big Time Baseball” that Picollo has “a lot of fans in that organization.” Heyman points out, as managing partner John Middleton said upon Matt Klentak stepping down, that the Phillies believe their best path forward would be to hire someone with a player development background to lead their front office, whether that means a president of baseball operations or general manager. No one has been interviewed yet, per Heyman, but you get the sense that could be in the near future with Picollo.
Ironically, Picollo was interviewed for the vacancy after the 2015 season, but Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that “his background is in player development and scouting and that probably didn’t fit what the Phillies were seeking as they continued to build theiranalytics department.”
Elsewhere, former Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is someone that Heyman – probably with an informed perspective – opines could be a good fit for the position. It’s unclear if for optics reasons if Middleton would want to turn the front office over to another executive with ties for the Orioles organization, given that Klentak and president Andy MacPhail had also previously worked for the franchise.
Heyman also suggests that former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti “could be a fit” as well. Now 66, Colletti was the general manager for nine seasons in Los Angeles. He hasn’t worked in a front office since 2014, though, as he’s currently a studio analyst for coverage of the Dodgers on Spectrum SportsNet LA and a scout for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
Perhaps the most important nugget that Heyman passed along is that manager Joe Girardi and senior advisor Pat Gillick “clearly have the ear of John Middleton.” Taking in the philosophies of Girardi and Gillick then becomes very important in trying to figure out who the Phillies will bring in to be their next lead front office executive.
Interestingly, Heyman says that Girardi and Colletti have a strong relationship. In fact, Heyman says that Colletti would have hired Girardi to replace Grady Little as the manager of the Dodgers after the 2007 season, but Girardi ultimately landed with the New York Yankees. Instead, the Dodgers would hire Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who parted ways with the Yankees and opened the door for Girardi after a decade as their skipper.
Another person with strong ties to Girardi – and scouting director Brian Barber – is Yankees’ vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring. The former MLB third baseman was on our list of potential candidates, but Andy Martino of SNY says that it’s unlikely he leaves the Yankees for any position at this time. In the past, Martino writes that Naehring turned down the chance to interview to be the general manager of the New York Mets, so it simply appears that he doesn’t wish to be a general manager, at least for now.
Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president and director of amateur scouting, hasn’t been mentioned by anyone yet, but his background and connections to Girardi make him an interesting name.
MacPhail, under contract through 2021, remains the team president, and Middleton said he would be involved in picking the next general manager. However, Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this month that Middleton’s “Middleton’s preference is for MacPhail to relinquish the club presidency a year early or at least to cede his baseball-related duties.” It’s unclear if MacPhail has any plans of doing that, but perhaps even if he has some level of sway in this search, it won’t be as much as Girardi, the current manager, or Gillick, one of the most accomplished executives in MLB history.
MacPhail and interim general manager Ned Rice may not be long for their current roles, but both will seemingly have to play a part in attempting to retain J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, while fixing a historically-bad bullpen.
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