In spirt of the Philadelphia Eagles interesting decisions handling the draft this weekend, I am going to dive into the worst moves Matt Klentak has made in charge of the Phillies.
The Phillies hired Matt Klentak after the 2015 season in hopes to speed up the rebuilding process and add young talent for the next championship run, which seems to be close. With the Phillies set to be contenders when the 2020 season gets underway, lets take a look at some questionable moves made by the Phillies front office.
1. Signing Jake Arrieta to a 3-year $74 Million Deal
The Phillies were one of the worst teams in baseball entering the 2017 spring and it was clear the team needed a steady ace at the top of the rotation. The signing of Arrieta was suppose to be a veteran presence that could help groom some of the younger starters while providing a much needed top of the line starter. Arrieta has been the opposite of a top end starter in his time in Philly as he has spent most of his time injured or pitching very poorly. With the first two seasons being a major disappointment and being locked into 20 million this season, the Arrieta signing is holding the Phillies back entering 2020. Arrieta would need to have a masterful 2020 season to make this deal worth it.
2. Signing Carlos Santana, Trading Santana
The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a 3 year 60 million dollar deal the same offseason they signed Arrieta. Carlos had a weird 2018 season for the Phillies, he hit a poor .229 at the plate but walking 110 times brought his on base percentage to .352 which is extremely good for having such a poor average. He displayed decent power hitting 24 homers and knocking in 86 runs. He was shipped to Cleveland in a 3 team trade prior to the 2019 season where the Phillies acquired shortstop Jean Segura. The main reason they traded Santana was to clear first base for Rhys Hoskins and move him away from left field.
This deal ended up being a waste of money, but what really hurts is that Santana returned to All-Star form in 2019 as he hit .281 with 34 homeruns and 93 RBI. It would have been nice to have that stat line in the middle of the Phillies order last year but their just was not a spot for him on the Phillies. This was poor player evaluation by Klentak.
3. Avoiding Upgrading at 2018/2019 trade deadlines
Phillies fans have been starving for a playoff berth since the rebuild began in the 2013 season. In 2018/2019 the Phillies were in a position to make a run for the playoffs at both July 31st deadlines and Klentak stayed put for the most part. In 2018 he made small moves like Justin Bour and Jose Bautista to try and improve the offense which failed. In 2019 with a team desperate for starting pitching and bullpen help he provided the team with Blake Parker, Jared Hughes, and Jason Vargas who I think made the Phillies worse as the 2019 season ended.
Maybe he was right to stay put because the teams lacked talent overall and were probably not ready to contend anyway but it is really hurtful to a fan base when the front office is not willing to invest in your team.
4. Not Making JT Realmuto a priority going forward
For some reason the front office is wary about investing longterm in All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Last season JT was easily one of the best players on the field for the Phillies on offense and especially defense. Realmuto stayed consistent, he never seemed to enter a slump the ways Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper would throughout the 2019 season. He easily is the best catcher in baseball and is only 28 years old. The fear Klentak must have is catchers do not age well in this league and prime examples of that are ex-MVP’s Joe Mauer of the Twins and Buster Posey of the Giants are now both shells of what they once were. (Mauer retired after the 2018 season)
The fear of the catcher decline should be overlooked in my opinion, each player and their bodies are different. Even if they give him a 4-5 year deal should we really be concerned that JT won’t be a solid catcher at age 33? After trading top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez to acquire Realmuto, Klentak should be making him a priority because you would look pretty stupid trading a 19 year old kid who throws 101 MPH to have an elite catcher for 2 seasons.