Deliberate search for next Phillies manager enters fourth week

Gabe Kapler, Jay Gibbons
Gabe Kapler (left), with teammate Jay Gibbons, before a Dodgers spring training game in March 2011.

The Mets, Red Sox, and Tigers have picked their next managers. The Nationals are … the Nationals. It is the height of managerial season, and the Phillies appear content to fill their vacancy at their own pace.

They decided 24 days ago to remove Pete Mackanin from the dugout. It could be at least another week before they choose his replacement.

The Phillies have trimmed a list that contained dozens of candidates to about 10 for interviews. The first round of interviews, according to a source, should be completed this week. The Phillies have informed candidates they plan to have a new manager in place sometime around Nov. 1. A second round of interviews with a few finalists is likely; that could begin later this week.

The team has declined to comment about the managerial search until it is complete. With the flow of information restricted to a small group in the Phillies’ front office that is running the search — and an intense desire to keep the process secret — only speculation is possible.

Whatever the case, the Phillies have moved at a deliberate pace.

There are five confirmed external candidates who scored interviews: Mariners bench coach Manny Acta, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, A’s third-base coach Chip Hale, Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler, and Giants third-base coach Phil Nevin.

The Mets introduced Callaway as their next manager during a Monday news conference.

Former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina have been rumored as candidates for the Phillies job, but it is unclear whether either has interviewed.

The Phillies have interviewed three internal candidates: Juan Samuel, Jorge Velandia, and Dusty Wathan.

Kapler, 42, is an intriguing contender. He played for parts of 12 major-league seasons, managed for a year in the minors, and has spent the last three seasons overseeing Los Angeles’ farm system. The former outfielder is hailed as a progressive baseball mind and fills almost all the criteria the Phillies have said their next manager should possess. The Phillies have copied some of his minor-league ideas, specifically related to nutrition, to their own system. He was once a finalist for the Dodgers job that went to Dave Roberts.

Kapler’s interview with the Phillies was first reported by MLB.com.

Hale and Nevin have connections to Bryan Minniti, a Phillies special assistant to the general manager, who has played a key role in the search process. Minniti worked in Arizona’s front office from 2015-16 when Hale, 52, was the Diamondbacks manager and Nevin, 46, managed the organization’s triple-A team.

Acta, 48, managed 890 games in the majors from 2007-12 with Washington and Cleveland. He was said to be a finalist for the Mets job and has been a candidate for numerous jobs in recent seasons.

As other teams conclude their managerial searches, the next race will be to fill coaching staffs. There is a deluge of available big-name pitching coaches — Jim Hickey, Mike Maddux, Dave Righetti, Jim Benedict, Chris Bosio, Rich Dubee, Dan Warthen, and even John Farrell — with quite a few open jobs. The Phillies might have coaches from the previous staff they want to retain, but those coaches could leave for a job elsewhere without a Phillies manager in place.

For now, everything is a secret, and that pleases the Phillies.