Phillies

10 candidates who could replace Pete Mackanin as Phillies manager

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10 candidates who could replace Pete Mackanin as Phillies manager

With Pete Mackanin out as Phillies manager, here's a look at 10 candidates who could potentially fill the job. These are in no particular order.

Dusty Wathan
Wathan managed pretty much all of the Phillies' young players at Double A and Triple A and could serve as the steward of this youth movement. He was the manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015, where he eventually became the winningest manager in team history. 

He took over as manager at Triple A this season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and has joined the Phillies' staff in the big leagues this September. 

Brad Ausmus
Like Phillies GM Matt Klentak, Ausmus (Dartmouth) has an Ivy League background. Ausmus managed the Tigers from 2014-17, compiling a record of 313-330. The Tigers won 90, 74 and 86 games in his first three seasons before tearing it down this season. 

Ausmus, 48, fits the mold of the young, good-looking manager (much more on that here) that major-league teams are hiring these days as the face of their franchise.

Joe McEwing
A Bristol, Pa. native and former big-league utilityman, McEwing is considered a managerial prospect. He spent 2012-16 as the White Sox third base coach and was their bench coach this season. 

Buck Showalter
Not an interview goes by where Phillies president Andy MacPhail doesn't mention his respect for Showalter. The two shared some history in the Baltimore Orioles' organization. 

The Phillies have plenty of Orioles roots in their front office with MacPhail, Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice.

Showalter currently manages the Orioles and is under contract through the end of 2018. 

David Ross
Ross has joined the broadcasting world in his first year of retirement after winning a World Series with the Cubs. He's been a fan favorite and leader at every stop, and he too fits the mold of young, recently retired former player that teams are going after as managers.

Ross is regarded as a great communicator and could be an interesting out-of-the-box consideration.

Mark McGwire
Another outside-the-box candidate, McGwire has paid his dues in recent years on the coaching staffs of the Dodgers and Padres.

Controversy obviously followed McGwire in his final days as a player but he showed some character by coming clean when many players did not. He's got presence, he's a good baseball man and he's someone the Phillies' young hitters could relate to and truly respect.

Ruben Amaro Jr.
He just won a division as part of the Red Sox coaching staff, and he made it clear when he signed on to be their first base coach that he had desires to manage someday. He will get his chance eventually ... though it probably won't be here just a few years after he was replaced as GM.

Juan Samuel
Samuel is on the Phillies' coaching staff, which could look completely different in 2018. He was one of only two men to receive an interview the last time the Phillies had a managerial opening (Mackanin was the other). Samuel has a long history with MacPhail and has been a key mentor to the Phillies' large group of young Hispanic players.

Jorge Velandia
A former MLB utilityman who has worked on and off the field in the Phillies' system. He's the GM for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League and is a key individual in the Phillies' Latin American development.

Dave Martinez
A popular name lately whenever a managerial opening arises, Martinez has had success as Joe Maddon's bench coach with both the Rays and Cubs, two analytically-inclined organizations.

Others
Ron Gardenhire will be a name you'll hear around these parts this fall, but it's hard to envision the Phillies going the route of a traditional, older, experienced manager given their front office, their priorities and the recent developments around baseball.

Joey Cora is another managerial prospect to keep in mind. He spent this season as the Pirates' third-base coach.

Tim Bogar is another name to consider and another managerial prospect often mentioned when teams have a vacancy. He's currently the Seattle Mariners' bench coach and he also has experience as a minor-league manager, a major-league interim manager (2014 Rangers) and a front-offie executive.

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.