The Phillies, according to two reports, have trimmed their managerial search to two candidates just 27 days after they removed Pete Mackanin from the dugout. Dusty Wathan, the manager at triple-A Lehigh Valley, is one. The other is Gabe Kapler, the director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The next manager could be revealed early next week.
MLB.com and NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that Wathan and Kapler advanced to the second round of the prolonged interview process. The Phillies declined comment.
The two men occupy different ends of the baseball spectrum. Wathan, 44, has managed in the Phillies farm system for the last decade, and he collected five at-bats in the majors. He has spent the last 24 seasons in the minors as a player or coach. He has extensive knowledge about much of the young Phillies roster.
Kapler, 42, played parts of 12 big-league seasons with six teams. He pursued front-office jobs, did writing and broadcast analysis for Fox Sports, and started a website to chronicle his nutrition and lifestyle ideas. Kapler has run the Dodgers farm system for the last three seasons but is said to have a strong desire to manage.
Either one would be the youngest to manage the Phillies since 38-year-old Terry Francona was hired before the 1997 season.
There are five known external candidates to have interviewed with the Phillies: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, former Red Sox manager John Farrell, A’s third-base coach Chip Hale, Kapler, and Giants third-base coach Phil Nevin. The Phillies interviewed three internal candidates: Wathan, Juan Samuel, and Jorge Velandia.
The actual list is longer, but the Phillies have had an intense desire to keep the process secret. A source clarified that Mariners bench coach Manny Acta never earned an in-person interview, as erroneously reported here earlier, but had been considered for one.
The Mets hired Callaway as their manager earlier this week.
Complicating matters: Two high-profile openings emerged since the Phillies began their search. The Nationals disposed of Dusty Baker and the Yankees announced Thursday that Joe Girardi would not return after 10 seasons as their manager.
Girardi, 53, would be on anyone’s short list, although it is curious that the Yankees decided he was not the right man to lead a young roster as it enters what could be a prolonged period of contention. Girardi could use 2018 as a year to rest and spend time with his family. Or he could find a home with the Nationals, a veteran team with World Series aspirations next season.
Wathan and Kapler are expected to meet with various Phillies officials during the second round of interviews. Team president Andy MacPhail, who has played a cursory role in the search, will be involved in the next phase.
One of MacPhail’s sons, Drew, works in the Dodgers player-development department under Kapler.