Matt Klentak has been hired as the Phillies' new general manager, sources confirm to CSNPhilly.com. The team has not confirmed the hiring but an announcement could come before the team's annual organizational meetings which begin Monday night in Clearwater, Florida.
Klentak, 35, replaces Ruben Amaro Jr., who was let go on Sept. 10. Amaro had been the Phillies' GM since October 2008.
Klentak is the first hiring of the Andy MacPhail era. MacPhail, a well-respected executive during three previous major-league stops, joined the Phillies' organization in late June and, as planned, took over the club's presidency from Pat Gillick earlier this month. Klentak previously worked under MacPhail when MacPhail was president of baseball operations with the Baltimore Orioles. Klentak moved on to Anaheim after his time in Baltimore and rose to the No. 2 spot in that team's baseball operations department under Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto was let go this summer and recently replaced by New York Yankees executive Billy Eppler.
In addition to becoming the leader of the Phillies' baseball operations department, Klentak represents a shift in decision-making philosophy for the organization. The Phillies have long been a scouting-based operation, and slow to embrace baseball's analytics movement. John Middleton, the most public voice in the Phillies' ownership group, made it clear during a September news conference that he wanted MacPhail to hire a general manager with a strong background in analytics and progressive decision-making. Klentak certainly has that. His previous working relationship with MacPhail and MacPhail's comfort with him clearly tipped the scale in his favor.
Tampa Bay executive Chaim Bloom and Oakland executive Dan Kantrovitz were finalists for the job. They also have strong backgrounds in analytics. Cherry Hill, New Jersey native J.J. Picollo, a well-respected and high-ranking executive with the World Series-bound Kansas City Royals, was also a candidate, but his background is in player development and scouting and that probably didn't fit what the Phillies were seeking as they continue to build their analytics department.
It is not clear whether Klentak will make any additional hires in the front office. MacPhail, who will maintain a heavy influence and have final say in all baseball matters, is on record as saying that existing members of the baseball operations department will remain on board through 2016. It's possible changes could come after that when Klentak becomes more familiar with team personnel and the Phillies' operation.
The new Phillies' GM takes over a team in transition. The Phillies entered a rebuilding phase a year ago and have spent the past year moving on from players who formed the foundation of the 2008 World Series champion team. Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley were all traded within the last 10 months and the club continues to look to move Ryan Howard. Youngsters such as Ken Giles, Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola have moved into regular roles and the club will continue to look to add top talent with the first-overall pick in the 2016 draft. The Phillies "earned" that pick by posting the worst record in baseball at 63-99 in 2015.
Gillick, who remains with the club as a front-office advisor, recently told CSNPhilly.com he was pleased with some of the early strides the club has made in the rebuild but warned that it will be another "two or three years before the team is ready to contend." MacPhail is in full support of the rebuild and has said that a major splash on the free-agent market this winter would be unlikely. Several times over the past few months, MacPhail has said that teams that remain on course with the rebuild will eventually be rewarded and there are no signs that he will allow a deviation from that plan.
Klentak becomes the man to execute that plan.
The Medfield, Massachusetts native spent the last four seasons as an assistant GM for the Angels.
Klentak graduated from Dartmouth College in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He played baseball at Dartmouth, starting at shortstop for three years and serving as the team captain during his senior season.