No option: Phils manager Girardi understands he has to win

Joe Girardi isn’t concerned about managing the Philadelphia Phillies without a contract extension.

Girardi signed a three-year deal in 2019 with a team option for 2023. The club hasn’t picked up the option and will likely wait to make that decision.

"It doesn’t make my job tougher," Girardi said Sunday. "I’m going to do the same job no matter what. I’ve never been extended in a season before so it’s something I’m used to. You play it out. Just like players, managers have to perform. It’s a production-based business so you have to perform."

Girardi is 110-112 in two seasons with the Phillies. He guided the Yankees to a World Series victory over Philadelphia in 2009, and was 910-710 in 10 seasons in New York from 2008-17.

The Phillies finished 82-80 last season, their first winning record since 2011, but extended their postseason drought to an NL-worst 10 years. They went 1-7 in their final eight games to finish 28-32 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Just one more win would’ve given them a wild-card berth.

"The constant is my wife, Kim, and the kids," Girardi said of the uncertainty about his future. "That’s how you deal with it. You’re going to move around. You’re going to live in different apartments. You get used to it."

If Girardi can lead Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler and the Phillies to October baseball in a competitive NL East, he’ll stick around to pull on those red pinstripes for at least another year.

But the Phillies have plenty of work to do.

They opened shortened spring training still looking for two starting outfielders and more bullpen depth. They need a leadoff hitter and prefer another guy to hit in the middle of the order to help protect Harper, the reigning NL MVP.

President Dave Dombrowski said he’s talked to every team about potential trades and has discussed several free agents. He indicated he has the freedom to spend freely, though he wouldn’t specify the team’s budget for competitive reasons. The Phillies’ payroll topped $200 million each of the past three seasons.

"We have ownership that’s absolutely fantastic," Dombrowski said. "They want to win. They’re very supportive. ... I don’t want to tip my hand on what we’re going to do. I don’t feel restricted at all."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the competitive-balance tax threshold was raised by $34 million over five years, up from a $21 million hike over the 2017-21 deal and an $11 million rise from 2011-16.

The Phillies will have a competition at shortstop between veteran Didi Gregorius and Bryson Stott, the 14th overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft. Gregorius batted .209 with 13 homers and 54 RBIs with a .270 on-base percentage last year.

"We’re going to look at them both," Girardi said. "Didi has a track record and he has a chance of bouncing back and having a big year because I’ve seen him do it. Bryson Stott, we’re going to take a look at him. He had an unbelievable year last year and he continued in the fall league and seems to be in a good place and it’s going to be an evaluation."

The starting rotation appears set with Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez. Wheeler is behind due to throwing 213 1/3 innings last year. Dombrowski said he could be ready for a start in the first turn in the rotation. Suarez still hasn’t arrived because he’s waiting for a passport. Eflin, who finished last season on the injury list, has been throwing off the mound and could be ready to start the season.

The Phillies bolstered the bullpen by signing closer Corey Knebel before the lockout. The team has reportedly agreed to a deal with righty Jeurys Familia, who was 9-4 with a 3.94 ERA in 65 appearances last season with the Mets. Familia saved an MLB-best 51 games in 2016, but he has 25 saves combined over the past five seasons.