Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin took the reins of the club from Charlie Manuel- the man who built the Phillies dynasty and led them to the top of the baseball world- mid-2015 after an abrupt resignation from then-manager Ryne Sandberg, signaling a full-on rebuild.
The interim manager was initially signed to a one-year deal, set to expire after this season if the Phils did not exercise the club option for the 2018 season.
Now, thanks to a new contract, the 65-year-old former Phillie could front the club come 2019, when the team is projected to move back into playoff contention in Major League Baseball. The rebuild is on track and Mackanin is the man to lead them.
General Manager Matt Klentak rewarded Mackanin’s patience on Thursday with a two-year contract extension that will keep him in the City of Brotherly Love through the 2018 campaign with a club option for 2019.
Klentak is proving he trusts Mackanin with development of the youth and with the management of his players, believing he is the right man to work with the young team in the midst of a rebuild.
The timing of the new contract is critical, given the Phillies’ expectations to be big spenders in free agency next winter. The Phillies are in prime position to be active in the star-studded 2018 free agent market that includes young superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper respectively. Also that winter, lock-down closers Craig Kimbrel and Zach Britton will be available, both under the age of 33.
With the prospects looking better than ever, the impending roster turnover from free agency and trade markets, Petey could have the roster he needs to embark on a postseason run.
The new deal from Klentak indicates that he also sees Mackanin as the man who will bring the Phillies back into playoff baseball in the coming years. The Phillies have not been in the playoffs since 2011, when the team recorded a franchise record 102-win season.
That September, the Phillies fell to eventual-champion St. Louis in the National League Division Series. It was also the start to the demise of the Phillies reign atop the National League.
Mackanin is no stranger to the Phillies organization, either. He was formerly a coach for the Phightins, serving as Manuel’s bench coach for four years (2009-12) and as third-base coach under Sandberg for a year and a half prior to becoming manager.
Mackanin is 121-160 overall since taking over the Phillies, and have steadily been increasing the team’s success.
The Phillies sit at 13-19 so far this season, but have seen considerable improvements since being named manager. Offensively, his squad is hitting .258/.328/.434 with a .763 OPS, which is good for a top third ranking among the entire league. Conversely, the team he took over two years ago ranked near the bottom.
On the pitching front, Mackanin is dealing with struggles and injuries as of late. The young rotation lacks consistency and efficiency needed to be an effective staff; time will tell if the youth can maintain composure to be mainstays in the rotation, or if the Phillies must look elsewhere for help. The bullpen, meanwhile, is less than spectacular. Aside from a few, the relief core has been unable to finish games, regardless of the run support received.
In order to compete with the best in MLB, the Phillies must remedy the bullpen situation. It’s a conceivable notion to believe that when Mackanin can field a legitimate contender, then the team will go all-in to look for stability it’s been longing for.
With the contract situation off his mind and settled, Mackanin can hopefully look to finish this season above .500, in what would be another step of progress in the rebuild.
Photo by Corn Farmer via Flickr