If you thought that Ned Rice may get phased out in Dave Dombrowski’s front office, you were incorrect.
Rice – who served as the interim general manager between Matt Klentak’s demotion in early October and Dombrowski’s hiring in December – has received a contract extension, according to Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The extension is of the two-year variety, with Breen now saying that Rice is under contract through 2023.
Though he’s rarely been seen publicly, Rice joined the Phillies front office in January of 2016, and is believed to have had quite a bit of influence during the Klentak era. Scott Proefrock and Bryan Minniti also had the same title as Rice during Klentak’s stint as general manager, though the thought was always that Rice carried the most influence of the trio.
Dombrowski will, of course, have the most power moving forward in baseball decisions, and his new general manager, Sam Fuld, promoted instead of someone like Rice, will presumably be No. 2. Still, the extension shows that Rice’s voice is valued in the organization. He’s part of what’s now a quartet of assistant general managers. Jorge Velandia became the first Venezuelan assistant general manager in MLB history when promoted to said role just prior to Christmas.
It’s perhaps not a coincidence that Rice was given a contract extension shortly after the organization re-signed J.T. Realmuto to a five-year/$115.5 million deal. Managing parter John Middleton told Phillies Nation in October that he was initially against the idea of trading Sixto Sánchez to the Miami Marlins in February of 2019 without first extending Realmuto. Ultimately, though, he said that his baseball people convinced him they could ultimately get a deal done. While there were times where that didn’t seem like a wise bet, the Phillies came to terms with Realmuto in late January. It remains to be seen whether the initial trade was a wise one or not.
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