Phillies GM Klentak steps down; to be reassigned

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Saturday that Matt Klentak has “stepped down as the team’s general manager.”

Klentak will be reassigned to another role in the organization. Assistant GM Ned Rice will take over as interim GM until a permanent successor is hired.

A franchise that has secured neither a playoff berth nor a winning record in the past nine seasons, the Phillies finished 28-32 this year, losing their final three games and seven out of their last 10 in manager Joe Girardi’s first campaign.

“I think we could have just as easily won 38 games, 35 games,” Girardi said last Sunday. “I really do.”

Philadelphia needed a win over Tampa Bay on the final day of the season and losses by San Francisco and Milwaukee to earn its way into the postseason. The Brewers and Giants both lost, but the Phillies were unable to give themselves a chance, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Rays.

“It’s tough sitting here and not thinking [about the playoffs],” outfielder Bryce Harper said. “We had opportunities to win games, and we just didn’t get it done.”

Sunk all season by a miserable bullpen, the Phillies could never build up enough momentum to firmly entrench themselves on the right side of the playoff line for Girardi, who took over after the team went 81-81 in 2019 with Gabe Kapler at the helm.

“We had a shot,” Girardi said. “We didn’t take advantage of it. It’s extremely disappointing, coming up one game short. There were a lot of chances to win that one game, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Klentak added to the team’s talent this offseason, and it appeared in spring training as if Girardi had the personnel to compete. Stars such as Harper, signed by Klentak in March 2019, and J.T. Realmuto were joined on the 2020 roster by high-end starter Zack Wheeler, signed away from the rival Mets, and shortstop Didi Gregorius, who left the Yankees.

“I have loved working with Matt Klentak,” Girardi said. “I think we have an outstanding relationship. We talk about situations all the time. I have loved working with him.”

Klentak, 40, a former assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Angels, was hired by the Phillies in 2015. Before taking the job in Philadelphia, he interviewed for the vacant general manager position with the Angels. Los Angeles ended up hiring Billy Eppler for that job. He, too, was let go — last Sunday, after the Angels finished out of the American League postseason with a 26-34 mark.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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