Phillies

Matt Klentak says Phillies will remain patient in pursuit of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

Matt Klentak says Phillies will remain patient in pursuit of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

Jim Thome signed his big free-agent contract with the Phillies just after Thanksgiving.

Cliff Lee signed his before Christmas.

Now, here we are, in Super Bowl week, two weeks before mitts start popping in Clearwater, and the Phillies still don’t know if their pursuit of mega free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will hit pay dirt.

Fans are getting antsy.

But Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is not.

Even as spring training comes into sight, he is committed to being patient.

“And, by extension, so is our front office and ownership,” Klentak said Wednesday (see story). “We're pretty aligned on that.”

Klentak got a taste of what he called “the new normal” of free agency last winter when he waited out Jake Arrieta and finally signed him to a three-year, $75 million contract on March 11.

Who knows how long it will take for Machado and Harper to make up their minds. The Phillies have had face-to-face meetings with both players. They have had continuing dialogue with the representatives for both players. The Phils would love to land one of these players.

“I tend to keep the information about the status of negotiations pretty guarded,” Klentak said. “I don't think it's in our best interests to disclose much about that.

“The fans are well aware that we're pursuing the top end of free agency. When that's going to resolve itself, we don't really know. To reach a deal, it really takes multiple parties coming together to do that.”

And Klentak is willing to wait for that to happen. Sure, there are circumstances, he said, in which he’d walk away from his pursuit of a free agent. But those circumstances relate to money and term of contract. Timing is not a parameter that will affect his pursuit of top free agents in this market. So the Phillies will multi-task: They will look to sign Machado or Harper even as they prepare for spring training, even as they head south, even as they begin workouts and games, if that’s what it takes.

“Our job as management is to be patient and understand the ebbs and flows of the free agency process and be ready to strike whenever that time is,” Klentak said. “What we try not to do is have the timing push that.

“What we did earlier in the offseason (adding Jean Segura, David Robertson and Andrew McCutchen) has allowed us to be in the position to where we're not letting the time pressure us into doing something. We're still open-minded in contract term and structure and working with the representatives on that, but I don't think the start of spring training, for example, serves as any deadline. We learned that last year with Jake.”

Klentak is well aware of how antsy fans are getting to see the Phillies land Machado or Harper. Though he does not personally engage in the use of social media, he felt some of the shockwaves that overtook Philadelphia on Tuesday when word spread that the team had struck a deal with Harper.

That was news to Klentak.

“I'm definitely amused by it,” he admitted. “I see a lot of it secondhand. I try to stay out of the fray. I woke up yesterday morning to a bunch of congratulations texts. I was like, ‘What are you congratulating me for?’ Then I figured it out. I'm plenty aware of it, whether it's my friends or family or colleagues, everybody's talking about it. It's an exciting time for the Phillies.”

Harper or Machado? Rhys Hoskins recently expressed confidence that the Phillies would land one of them.

Klentak’s level of confidence?

“I have confidence we've put our best foot forward with these guys and in the subsequent dialogue we've had,” he said. “It's impossible to predict where someone's going to land or how much money they're going to make. I don't know the answer to that. But I'm very confident in our approach and in our communication style with these guys.”

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It turns out Jeopardy host Alex Trebek isn't the biggest fan of the Phanatic

It turns out Jeopardy host Alex Trebek isn't the biggest fan of the Phanatic

Jeopardy has been home to some great moments regarding Philadelphia sports in the past.

 I wish this was another one of these moments ... but it's not.

 It turns out, the show's host host Alex Trebek isn't a big fan of the Phillie Phanatic ... I know, I'm hurt too.


 The Phillies are in disbelief, we all are.
 
 Of course, fans had quite the reaction to the video that surfaced on social media. After all, the Phanatic is the best mascot in all of sports (totally unbiased, of course).




 

I don't even want to know what he thinks about Gritty.

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Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Right around the time the Washington Nationals were clinching their World Series berth this week, a guy who left that team to come play in Philadelphia posted a cute photo to his Instagram story with his baby son. It included the caption, "cuddle time is the best time."

I made light of the juxtaposition of that photo with what Nationals players were currently doing in a tongue-in-cheek tweet, but it's hard not to think about Bryce Harper during this Nationals run.

We know exactly how Nationals fans down in DC feel about their former favorite slugger who departed DC for big time bucks. They won't stop telling us.

But what was Harper feeling? Thanks to a one-on-one interview Harper did with Jayson Stark of the Athletic, we now have a glimpse into Harper's mind during this unique time.

Stark says Harper was effusive in his praise of the city of Philadelphia during their chat. And the majority of Harper's answers are very savvy in a public relations sense. Harper is good at saying what you think he's supposed to say. But it doesn't come off as disingenuous.

Stark asked Harper if he was feeling any jealousy watching his old pals spray champagne in the locker room and his answer comes off as pretty honest. From the Athletic ($):

“No,” he said again, without a millisecond’s hesitation, “because like I said, I made my decision, and that was my decision. And it was the final decision that I made. You know, jealousy isn’t good. For me, it’s about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else.

“I think it’s about being able to be the person that I am,” he went on, “and not saying to myself, `Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m not a National.’ Or, `Oh my gosh, those guys are doing what they’re doing. I can’t believe it. I’m so jealous.’ No. I’m so happy for them. You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it’s an amazing thing.”

There's plenty more to the piece worth diving into. Stark also spoke with former National/Phillie Jayson Werth, who knows a thing or two about both cities/clubs and also what it's like to play alongside Harper.

The Nationals' opponent in the World Series is yet to be set, but whether it's the Nationals, New York Yankees or Houston Astros who are spraying champagne at the end of it, you won't see Harper doing that. Unless he and his little baby pop up in his Instagram stories getting wacky.

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