The writing had been on the wall for quite some time that former Phillies general manager Matt Klentak would not carry the same designation in 2021. After watching the team he crafted crumble while their division counterparts surged towards the postseason, it became abundantly clear that a change in leadership was needed in Philly.
Admittedly, though, many of us didn’t expect Klentak to outright resign from the role and assume some unspecified, lower position. Although a bit surprising, the demotion still allows the Phillies to (hopefully) find the proper candidate to right the ship.
As is expected at the major-league level, there are quite a few bright baseball minds across the league that may be ready for general manager duties. In this piece, I will highlight five front office candidates that could replace Matt Klentak as Phillies’ GM.
A former BoSox infielder, Naehring has been working as an executive for the Yankees since 2007- working in close quarters with Phillies skipper Joe Girardi for nearly a decade. Given their extensive work history, a seamless transition and partnership are to be expected from Girardi and Naehring should join the Phillies organization.
Known for his supreme scouting ability, Naehring may generate interest from more than just the Phillies this winter. It would likely take quite the offer to lure him from New York, but the big-market of Philly and a few superstars in Aaron Nola and Bryce Harper to build around may be enough to entice him.
Now a Special Assistant in the Tampa Bay organization, Heck formerly served as a highly-impactful scout and assistant general manager with the Houston Astros. During his stay in Houston, Heck was the scouting director of and oversaw five Astros drafts (2008-2012).
Although Heck was allowed to walk after his contract expired in 2012, the fruits of his labor far exceeded his tenure. Out of the 25 players on the Astros 2017 World Series-winning roster, Heck played a hand in the acquisition of 11 of those players(!).
Chief among them being 2015 Rookie of the Year and all-star Carlos Correa, 3x all-star and WS MVP George Springer, and 2015 AL Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel.
Hiring Heck would go a long way towards restoring what can only be described as a depleted farm system for Philly.
Having assembled three different World Series-caliber rosters in Miami, Boston, and Detroit, the Phillies should at least kick the tires on Dombrowski this winter.
He has a proven track record of quickly manufacturing playoff appearances, but his equal track record of dismantling farm systems may rub the Phillies the wrong way.
One of the candidates for the position during their last general manager search, Picollo interviewed for the position that was awarded to Klentak five years ago.
In their last go-round, it was reported that Picollo’s style didn’t jive well with the analytically-driven Phillies front office. Perhaps the Klentak experiment going so poorly will cause the front office to ease off that stance some, but that remains to be seen.
Another candidate who interviewed for the Phillies’ GM opening, Kantrovitz was said to be among the finalists for the position, and, given his resume, it would behoove the Phillies to give him another strong look.
Kantrovitz has earned high-praise from around the league for his terrific work as a scout. Currently serving as the Cubs scouting director, the Harvard graduate has also enjoyed a few cups of coffee with the Cardinals and A’s as a scout- making a tremendous impact in both locations.
Under his watch, Saint Louis saw a major influx of talent in the three drafts he coordinated.
Derrick Goold (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) puts it simply: “In the three drafts he ran for the Cardinals, Kantrovitz oversaw the selections of a parade of major-league starters: Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales, Luke Weaver, Austin Gomber, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and, with the 34th pick in the 2014 draft, budding ace Jack Flaherty.” I n just three drafts, Kantrovitz was able to collect 31.7 WAR out of his pitchers(!).
Kantrovitz’s efficiency at scouting and acquiring pitching talent makes him a match made in heaven for the Phillies, who have been severely lacking in that department at both the minor and major-league level.
Regardless of replacement, the next Phillies general manager will have their work cut out for them. With a foundational piece of the franchise quickly approaching free-agency in J.T Realmuto, the worst bullpen in human history in desperate need of revamping, and a barren farm system to restore, the Phillies must ensure that they onboard the proper leader- one that will position them to succeed both now and in the future.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire