Phillies rumor: GM Matt Klentak ‘expected’ to be let go
By Matt Rappa
Phillies GM Matt Klentak is reportedly on the hot seat
With the Philadelphia Phillies’ series opener loss to the 2020 American League East champion Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, manager Joe Girardi‘s squad guaranteed the organization’s ninth straight losing season — and, barring an unexpected turn of events, likely their ninth straight season without a postseason as well.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has been at the helm for five of those seasons, replacing Ruben Amaro Jr. following the 2015 season. It appears as though his job is on the line. Saturday morning, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported that if the team does not make the playoffs, Klentak is “expected to be let go” by early next week.
Bowden adds that even if the Phillies manage to qualify for the postseason, they would “probably need to get past the wild card series to save his job.”
Ironically, the Phillies would need some help from Gabe Kapler‘s San Francisco Giants to make that happen. Although the Phils trail the current No. 8-seed Giants by just one game in the standings, they could finish the season tied with them and still qualify for the postseason spot, given they hold the tiebreaker. If the Giants go 1-1 against the San Diego Padres and the Phillies go 2-0 against the Tampa Bay Rays in the final two days, Girardi’s team will make the playoffs. The Giants could also go 0-2 and the Phillies 1-1 with the same result.
However, the Phillies are not exactly in control of their own destiny. The Giants could win out the season and eliminate them; there is also the Milwaukee Brewers looming, who the Phils need to lose one of their remaining two games to not enter the equation.
Bowden went on to note that Klentak has made “several solid moves under his leadership,” include the free-agent signings of Bryce Harper and Zach Wheeler. “But,” Bowden continues, “both of those acquisitions could be credited more to owner John Middleton playing checkbook baseball.”:
"Klentak’s most important trade was the acquisition of the game’s best catcher, J.T. Realmuto, although his failure to sign him to a long-term contract almost negates the value of the deal, considering he gave up a package that included future pitching ace Sixto Sanchez. And while Klentak continually tried to improve the bullpen, he could not assemble a competitive unit – the Phillies are the only team in baseball with a bullpen ERA north of 7.00."
The Phils currently have a 326-380 record under Klentak, who was one of eight major-league managers or general managers mentioned by Bowden as being on the hot seat amid “disappointment for failing to live up to expectations.”
Surely, the 2020 Phillies season fits just that description.