In an offseason moving at a snail’s pace, any news seems like big news right now. On Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies continued their front office overhaul. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury was the first to report the club will hire Sam Fuld as the 12th general manager in franchise history.
Sam Fuld broke into Major League Baseball’s ranks on the diamond. The Stanford product played in parts of eight seasons for the Cubs, Rays, Athletics, and Twins. Fuld played over 115 games four times from 2011-2015; while a light hitter, Fuld played exceptional outfield defense for most of his playing career.
When Fuld retired in 2017, he immediately joined the Phillies front office as their Major League player coordinator. According to an initial report, Fuld’s role was to “integrate the use of information in all areas of on-field performance and preparation and make recommendations regarding the most effective areas of future research and analysis.” He’s remained in that role ever since, despite attracting heavy managerial interest from multiple clubs. Fuld even interviewed for the Toronto Blue Jays role in 2018, before the club decided on Rays bench coach Charlie Montoya. He also reportedly declined an interview for the Mets vacancy last offseason.
Why Now for a New GM?
After missing the Postseason and failing to finish over .500 for a ninth consecutive season, the Phillies have made sweeping changes to their front office. Matt Klentak, the club’s previous general manager since 2015, reigned from his position. Eleven days ago, the club named former Marlins, Tigers, and Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski their first-ever president of baseball operations. These moves follow the hiring of Joe Girardi as manager last offseason, replacing Gabe Kapler after a two-year stint.
Initially, it seemed surprising the Phillies brought on Fuld for this job. After Klentak and Kapler failed to return the team to October, the Phillies have placed extra emphasis on experience. Klentak and Kapler were forward-thinking new-comers to MLB front offices. In fact, Kapler and Fuld missed out on being teammates in Tampa Bay by just a year.
But considering Fuld will likely be working under Dombrowski (who should have the final say for most if not all moves), it does make sense. Fuld’s analytical approach could provide a nice counter to the more traditional Dombrowski. The fact that Fuld has interviewed elsewhere recently shows others in the league give him respect, something the Phillies franchise is desperately searching for. Fuld will be part of the group trying to turn the Phillies after a disappointing 28-32 2020 campaign. Top players such as Didi Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto hitting free agency and a mediocre pipeline make that challenge a daunting one.
Salisbury also reported that another former Major League Jorge Velandia be the club’s new assistant GM. Velandia was named an assistant coach for the Phillies in July 2015.