July 17, 2019
The Phillies had quite the busy winter, adding the like of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, among others — but they're offseason included one more very important deal that is just coming to light now, in mid-July.
According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, the Phillies inked general manager Matt Klentak, who was originally hired following the 2015 season, to a three year-contract extension back in March, but never announced the move publicly.
Klentak received a three-year contract extension in March, according to three sources familiar with the situation, that makes him the Phillies general manager through the 2022 season. The club never announced the deal, nor did it ever detail Klentak’s initial deal. According to a source, the original deal was for three years plus an option year; then, this spring, that option year — which covered the 2019 season — was renegotiated, and three years were added to it. [theathletic.com]
Shocking, right? Four months is a long time to wait to find out that the GM of a professional sports team was given a multi-year extension, especially his first such extension on the job. But even more shocking might be the fact that the Phillies did the same thing with team president Andy MacPhail ... two years ago. And news of that extension is also just coming out now.
Here's more from The Athletic's report:
That dovetailed with a similarly undisclosed arrangement made with MacPhail more than a year earlier. The Phillies, according to sources, extended his contract by three years late in 2017. MacPhail had signed a three-year deal that took him through 2018. The extension carries MacPhail through the 2021 season.
[John] Middleton declined to comment for this story, citing a long-standing club policy of not discussing executives’ contracts. [theathletic.com]
It's not totally uncommon for these sorts of deals to happen (and remain) behind closed doors, as Gelb points out. However, this marks a big change in philosophy for the Phillies, who were previously very transparent about the contract status for general managers Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro, Jr. But that seems to have changed since the arrival of MacPhail.
According to Gelb, MacPhail was asked about Klentak's contract following the 2018 season and wanted no parts of answering the questions, responding to the reporter, "Why would I tell you that?" After being pressed, MacPhail responded.
“It’s a good question,” MacPhail said at an Oct. 2, 2018 news conference. “It’s just one that I’m not going to answer for reasons that would just create speculation and a ticking clock that would be self-inflicted on my part. So, why would I say that? We keep those things confidential for reasons that I think just make good sense.” [theathletic.com]
The team may have a "long-standing club policy" of not commenting on executives' contracts, but that's not synonymous with leaking, as this information had to get out somehow, and presumably the only people who knew about such a deal were people who either work for the Phillies or the agents, who work for the people who now work for the Phillies. You do the math.
Adding to the mystery here is the timing. Why would the Phillies want to keep quiet that they just resigned the architect of arguably the biggest offseason in franchise history? Sure, the team isn't performing to the level they had hoped, but they didn't know that at the time. Fan support for the team — and for Klentak — had never been higher and an extension would have been welcomed with open arms. But opting to go this rout, they run the risk of the news coming out at a time when the city as a whole is less than enthusiastic about the team's leadership.
The Phillies certainly could've been the ones to leak it now, as a last-ditch effort to throw their support behind management as the team's season slowly (maybe not so slowly) circles the drain. But given what MacPhail said last fall about "speculation and a ticking clock that would be self-inflicted," that doesn't seem like it would be the smartest move. But this information had to come from somewhere.
Either way, the secret is out ... and the clock is now ticking.
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