Kapler returned to Philadelphia last Friday for a second round of interviews. He impressed, cementing his status as the favorite for the job. Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan and former Red Sox manager John Farrell also had second interviews late last week.
Kapler, 42, is a bold choice, but not an unexpected one from a progressive front office. Kapler managed Class A Greenville (a Red Sox affiliate) during a short-lived retirement in 2007. It is his only managerial experience, but the Phillies were looking for somebody with much more than that.
Kapler finished a 12-year playing career in 2010 with Tampa Bay, where he met current Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. The two clicked, putting Kapler on his path toward the Phillies. Kapler worked in TV and wrote for Baseball Prospectus before Friedman named Kapler his player development director in 2014. Kapler was nearly hired as Dodgers manager following the 2015 season, but Dave Roberts got the job instead.
Friedman has told teams that Kapler would be an excellent manager. The Phillies listened.
Kapler will be the first manager hired without organizational ties since Terry Francona in 1996. He also will be the youngest manager since Francona, who was 38.
Kapler appealed to the Phillies for several reasons. First, it is expected that he will be an excellent communicator with the team’s young roster. Kapler is analytically inclined, which likely is a prerequisite for a front office that has invested heavily in its analytics staff the past two years. He also has interests in nutrition, fitness and sports psychology. The Phillies have invested resources recently in nutrition and sports psychology.
The Phillies interviewed around 10 people for the job. The group also included former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, former Giants third-base coach Phil Nevin, A’s third-base coach Chip Hale, Phillies front office adviser Jorge Velandia and Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel.
MLB.com reported Kapler’s candidacy two weeks ago. Many considered him the favorite from that point because he seemed to check off so many of the Phillies’ boxes.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.