When the Phillies searched for the franchise’s 11th general manager in 2015, they were looking to ride the wave the rest of baseball was on. The three finalists — Dan Kantrovitz, Chaim Bloom and Matt Klentak — were all young, Ivy League graduates who if hired would be tasked with building an analytics department from the ground up. None of the three had any previous experience in the position.
Team President Andy MacPhail went with a familiar face in Klentak, who previously worked under MacPhail in the Baltimore Orioles front office. Five years later, Klentak is out as GM and MacPhail still serves as team president — though it’s unclear just how long he’ll remain in that role. Klentak has been reassigned to another position within the organization.
With Klentak’s reign as general manager coming to an end, let’s take a look back at the finalists for the job and where they are at in their respective careers.
J.J. Picollo – Kansas City Royals Vice President/Assistant GM – Player Personnel
Bob Nightengale said Picollo was “a heavy favorite” for the Phillies GM job on Oct. 15, 2015. Just days later, Picollo was reportedly out of the running for the job a day before Klentak was announced as Ruben Amaro Jr.’s successor.
The 49-year-old South Jersey native was promoted to his current role in Kansas City in January 2015 and has remained there since. He interviewed for the GM position in Minnesota in 2016. The Twins ultimately hired Thad Levine.
Picollo holds many titles as a member of the Royals front office. One that’s seemingly out of the public eye is “field coordinator.” Royals GM Dayton Moore and Picollo collaborated on the idea to move Picollo from the office to the field during certain times of the year (i.e, spring training and instructional league) to better communicate with and evaluate players and coaching methods among many things, per Alec Lewis of The Athletic.Embed from Getty Images
Dan Kantrovitz – Chicago Cubs Scouting Director
The Phillies interviewed the investment banking analyst turned baseball executive in 2015 when he was the assistant GM of the Oakland Athletics. Kantrovitz has since taken the Cubs’ scouting director job — a position he has held since December 2019.
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian during the winter meetings that most executives don’t return to the scouting director position when they reach the assistant GM level but he has “… discovered that his passion is running the Draft.”
“He can scout,” Epstein said. “He goes out and sees 200 players a year when he’s running the Draft and can really relate very well to scouts. And he’s also got experience building advanced analytical models and combining both those worlds in a really effective manner. So, I think he fills a big void for us. I look forward to working with him for years to come.”
Before taking the job in Chicago, Kantrovitz held the same position in St. Louis and oversaw the team’s drafts from 2012-2014. He has a knack for identifying pitching as his draft haul includes Michael Wacha (2012 first round), Marco Gonzales (2013 first round), Luke Weaver (2014 first round), Austin Gomber (2014 fourth round), Daniel Ponce de Leon (2014 ninth round) and former Cy Young candidate Jack Flaherty (2014 first-round compensatory pick).Embed from Getty Images
Chaim Bloom – Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer
The team interviewed the Philadelphia native and Yale graduate when he was just 32 years old. Before landing the job in Boston in 2019, Bloom interviewed with the Brewers, Twins, Giants and Mets for their GM openings.
Bloom was tasked with getting the Red Sox under the luxury tax threshold and trading homegrown superstar Mookie Betts — an unenviable task for any first-time GM. He absolutely fleeced the Phillies in the Workman/Hembree for Pivetta/Seabold trade in his first deadline in charge.
Bloom has been a highly coveted executive for quite some time because he spent so much time in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He started as an intern in 2005 and rose all the way to senior vice president of baseball operations. The Rays are widely considered to be the most well-run organization in baseball and Bloom had a presence in just about every area of the baseball operations department in Tampa Bay.
It’ll be impossible to lure Bloom to Philly. He holds the highest position in baseball operations for the Sox and there’s virtually no reason to leave one big market for another.
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