Phillies assistant general manager Ned Rice received a two-year contract extension earlier this month, a source said, after spending two months as the interim general manager following the reassignment of Matt Klentak.
Rice spent five seasons as Klentak’s top lieutenant after being his first hire before the 2016 season. Rice’s contract, which was set to expire after the 2021 season, will now run through 2023.
Klentak and Rice first worked together in Baltimore under current Phillies president Andy MacPhail before the trio reunited in Philadelphia. MacPhail’s contract expires after this season, while Klentak’s runs through 2022.
Rice is one of the team’s four assistant GMs under general manager Sam Fuld, who was promoted in December to work under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. The contracts for assistant GMs Bryan Minniti and Scott Proefrock run through the 2021 season. Jorge Velandia was promoted to assistant GM when Fuld was hired.
As interim GM, Rice made just three acquisitions, all waiver claims for players who have since been moved away by Dombrowski. Rice’s time was brief, but there seemed to be a chance in October that his tenure would last longer than a typical “interim” basis.
Phillies managing partner John Middleton said after Klentak was reassigned that Rice could be the interim GM through the 2021 season. MacPhail said later that month that the Phillies could have trouble finding a candidate who would “want to uproot in the middle of a pandemic.”
They found that person in Dombrowski, who had rebuffed their first offer before the Phillies circled back. Rice returned to his role as an assistant general manager, and Dombrowski elevated Fuld 11 days later.
Dombrowski credited Rice on Wednesday for his work on Didi Gregorius’ two-year contract, saying he “worked for hours with Didi’s representatives.”
“So special thanks to him for getting this done,” Dombrowski said.
Rice graduated from William & Mary and joined the Orioles in the fall of 2005 as an intern in the public relations department. He transitioned in 2006 to baseball operations as Baltimore’s video coordinator for road games.
A year later, Rice caught the attention of MacPhail — who had just been hired to run Baltimore’s front office — while answering MacPhail’s office phone when MacPhail’s executive assistant was out sick. Rice had his break, impressing MacPhail with his acumen for advanced statistics, and MacPhail hired him to be a player information analyst.
With the Phillies, Rice overhauled the nutrition plan for minor leaguers and Middleton credited him with playing a key role in the negotiations to sign Bryce Harper.
The Phillies, under Klentak and Rice, had five straight seasons without a winning record and failed to finish better than third place in the National League East. Klentak is no longer listed on the team’s online staff directory, but Dombrowski said in December that Klentak would be used to “consult” on personnel moves.
The Phillies media guide says Rice helped “map out strategy of roster management, oversees analytics and the medical department and assists in player contracts and negotiations, transactions, salary arbitration and rules compliance.”
“They are somewhat like-minded, but they have very different personalities,” MacPhail said in October about the difference between Klentak and Rice. “Ned is more extroverted, more likely to be hanging around the clubhouse. I think both of them are very bright and they are well grounded in the game.”