Never say never, but it doesn’t appear likely that Theo Epstein will be the next president of baseball operations for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jayson Stark of The Athletic reports that while managing partner John Middleton did reach out to Epstein – who helped end long World Series droughts in Boston and Chicago – he was “informed that Epstein isn’t interested in the job at this time.”
That wording leaves a little wiggle room, essentially suggesting that Epstein isn’t interested in this position right now because of his stated desire to take a year off, rather than being turned off by the situation in Philadelphia as a whole. Still, it most likely is the nail in the coffin for Epstein’s candidacy with the Phillies, because the team is unlikely to kick the can on a year of Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler’s primes for the chance that Epstein has interest in taking over their front office ahead of the 2022 season.
Additionally, there are indications that the Phillies are now seriously moving forward with their search for a new front office head, which didn’t initially appear to be the case when Matt Klentak stepped down in early October.
Stark says that the Phillies interviewed former Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill Wednesday. Hill and the Marlins parted ways after the 2020 season, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of results. The Marlins made the playoffs for the first time since 2003 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and have a surplus of young pitching that figures to keep them in contention for the better part of the next decade. At the forefront of the team’s crop of youthful arms is Sixto Sánchez, who looked like a front-line starter at times during his rookie season. Sánchez, of course, is the Phillies former top prospect, having been sent to Miami in February of 2019 as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade.
Stark says that the Phillies have spoken to, at a minimum, three external candidates for the president of baseball operations position, noting that Los Angeles Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes is likely part of that group. Byrnes is well thought of by some of the best minds in baseball, currently working under Andrew Friedman in Los Angeles and having spent time as Epstein’s assistant general manager in Boston. The 50-year-old has previously served as the general manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, stints that could probably be best described as being mixed bags. Then again, it’s fair to assume that in six years with one of the most successful organizations in baseball, Byrnes has continued to grow.
Current team president Andy MacPhail has had a much more hands-off role in baseball operations than his successor is expected to have. MacPhail, whose contract expires after the 2021 season, has said he plans to leave his post after the campaign, and would be willing to step aside sooner if it helped the organization to land an ideal candidate.
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