The average age of the Philadelphia Phillies on the field has gotten significantly younger over the past twelve months, so it makes sense that they decided to inject some youth into the front office as well. Today the organization officially announced the hiring of Matt Klentak as the newest general manager. At 35, Klentak becomes the youngest general manager in team history and inherits a team that is young and inexperienced. Klentak mirrors his team in the youth aspect, but one thing fans won’t have to worry about is inexperience.
Klentak played four years at Dartmouth College and graduated with a degree in economics. With his Ivy League education and baseball experience, Klentak quickly moved from the field into the office as he was hired to work in the Baseball Operations department for the Colorado Rockies. After working in the Labor Relations department, Klentak worked alongside our own Andy MacPhail with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement and after that, he was promoted to Director of Baseball Operations. Most recently, he spent four years as the assistant general manager in Los Angeles for the Angels where he focused mainly on scouting and development as well as assisting in contract negotiations. Klentak is said to have extensive knowledge in analytics. Couple that with his scouting and playing experience along with the respect he has earned among his peers, the Phillies continue to push towards an analytical approach while also staying close to the traditional side of player development. While the team he inherits may not look like much at face value, his position should have been one of the more enviable jobs in baseball.
The Phillies will enter the 2016 season with an almost unlimited amount of resources. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies’ payroll will go from $146 million in 2015 to $63 million in 2016 and as of now, the team only has $23 million committed to the 2017 season. In addition, next year will begin the 25 year, $2.5 billion contract between the Phillies and Comcast SportsNet. Philadelphia has entered the big market club in the baseball world over the past decade and they will have a solid core of homegrown players to build around by spending that money on big name free agents when the time is right. Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, Jered Eikhoff and Ken Giles have all seen success in their limited time with the big club and they still have top 10 MLB prospect J.P. Crawford waiting for his shot. Furthermore, the team’s 2015 first round pick posted impressive numbers in his rookie minor league season and the Phillies have the first overall pick in the upcoming 2016 draft. There is certainly more reason for optimism for Phillies’ fans and Klentak will look to capitalize on the buzz surrounding a young team with a new front office.
At today’s introductory press conference, owner John Middelton said, “We all want to feel that stadium sway again.” It may be stretching to say that the Phillies could be title contenders within two years, but Klentak seems eager to try and do just that. “I have very ambitious goals,” Klentak said today. “I want to win.”