Gabe Kapler’s future as Phillies manager could be determined by his players. According to a source, team owner John Middleton has sought input from members of the roster as he nears a decision to fire Kapler or retain him for next season.
Middleton has spent the first eight days of the offseason trying to determine if Kapler will remain the manager for the final year of his three-year contract. A decision is expected sometime this week. General manager Matt Klentak, who a source said last week is not in danger of losing his job, has vouched for Kapler.
But after two disappointing seasons, Middleton is looking to gather more information. And that is what led him in recent days to feel out the players. If the opinions from the clubhouse match what the players said publicly about Kapler during the final week of the season, the manager has a chance to survive.
“It hasn't been his fault,” Bryce Harper said after the final day of the season, echoing the sentiment shared by Rhys Hoskins, Jake Arrieta, and J.T. Realmuto.
Kapler reported to work last week at Citizens Bank Park without any assurance that he would return next season as manager. There are already seven managerial openings for next season. Kapler should find out this week if his job will be the eighth. The Phillies fired pitching coach Chris Young on Friday and will need to hire a hitting coach. They have a busy offseason.
Kapler provided his players with autonomy, allowing them for the last two seasons to largely police themselves. The clubhouse faced few restrictions and the players enjoyed their freedom, which could keep them in Kapler’s corner when Middleton reaches out.
Hoskins and Harper remained in the area after the season, which would provide them a chance to meet with Middleton. Harper said he would be open to sharing his opinions.
“I expect to see him back here,” Realmuto said after the team ended the season with a .500 record. “We feel like he’s done a great job for us. He gets the guys to play hard. We all love playing for him. He’s been our manager all year and nobody’s had anything to say about it.
"We’ve obviously had a rough last couple of weeks and fell out of contention. For me, Gabe’s our manager. He’s a guy that this clubhouse really respects.”