What to Know
- The Phillies have fired manager Gab Kapler, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reports.
- Gabe Kapler posted a 161-163 record and failed to make the playoffs in two seasons as Phillies manager
- "I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club," managing partner John Middleton said.
The Phillies have fired manager Gabe Kapler after the team ended its season with a lackluster 81-81 record and out of the playoffs.
NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury first reported Kapler's dismissal on Thursday morning.
The Phillies later confirmed the firing with a new release and a series of tweets, with general manager Matt Klentak thanking Kapler for "his tireless commitment to the Phillies."
"When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.," Klentak said. "While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap’s efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward."
The team also confirmed Thursday that Chris Young won't return as pitching coach and Charlie Manuel is out as hitting coach, set to return to his role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant athletic trainer Chris Mudd didn't have their contracts renewed, the team said.
The rest of Kapler's coaching staff was invited to return for the 2020 season.
Phillies managing partner John Middleton said he made the decision to let Kapler go after days of reflection on why the Phillies have fallen sort of the playoffs.
"I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club, and we are unquestionably a better team and organization as a result of his contributions," Middleton said.
Klentak is expected to lead the search for the Phillies next manager, Middleton said.
Kapler, 44, posted a 161-163 record as the the team's manager for two seasons. In both seasons at the helm, the Phillies showed promise in the NL East before faltering later in the season. He had one year left on his contract.
He thanked the Phillies brass, the team and the city of Philadelphia.
"We came into 2019 with very high hopes," Kapler said. "We fell short of those, and that responsibility lies with me. The next Phillies manager will inherit a team of talented, dedicated and committed players."
Kapler benefited from the Phillies' moves in the offseason, including winning the high-priced free agency competition for Bryce Harper. The Phils signed Harper to a $330 million, 13-year contract, also adding Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and trading for star catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura.
The 2019 Phillies got off to a strong start. They were 11 games over .500 and 3½ games up in the division entering play on May 30. Over the next three-plus weeks, the Phillies spiraled downward and fell to 6½ games out in the race. During that span, the team suffered a significant loss when leadoff man (McCutchen) went down with a season-ending knee injury.
There were other injuries along the way, particularly in the bullpen. But even with the injuries and even with the front office taking a conservative approach to filling holes at the trade deadline, the Phillies were viewed as having a roster capable of producing more than it did.
The Harper signing, in particular, was being credited with lifting Phillies' attendance 26% this season, or an increase of 569,297 fans -- the largest total increase in the major leagues, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
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And Kapler did lead the team to its first season without a losing record in six years.
But fans expected more, especially with the investments made in the team. And Kapler was a controversial figure among fans, some of whom never connected with his style or his relative inexperience as a manager.