Zaidi, Kapler expected to be back with Giants next year

September 16th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Giants expected to do better than to be one of four clubs battling for the third and final National League Wild Card spot this season, but their brain trust appears to be safe for now.

Giants chairman Greg Johnson reiterated to The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Thursday that president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler “will both be here next year.” Johnson’s vote of confidence came on the same day the Red Sox dismissed Chaim Bloom as their chief baseball officer, ending a nearly four-year run that resulted in only one playoff appearance for the club.

Zaidi was hired one year prior to Bloom’s arrival in Boston, but his tenure in San Francisco has been marked by similar pitfalls. Tasked with turning the Giants into sustainable contenders, Zaidi steered the club to a franchise-record 107 wins and a NL West division title in 2021, but San Francisco significantly regressed last season, going 81-81 and missing the playoffs for the third time since 2019.

Despite their attempts to land a big star in free agency, the Giants whiffed on their offseason pursuits of Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, pivoting to outfielders Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto, who have been hampered by injuries and inconsistency this year. Left-hander Taylor Rogers has settled into a back-end role in the Giants’ bullpen, but Zaidi’s two other free-agent signings -- Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea -- have bounced in and out of the rotation amid their own struggles this year.

Many of their veterans have underwhelmed, but the Giants have received a significant boost from their farm system, which graduated a talented wave of prospects to the Majors this year, including Patrick Bailey, Kyle Harrison and Casey Schmitt, all of whom were drafted by Zaidi’s regime.

With Zaidi in the final year of the original five-year contract he signed in November 2018, there was speculation that the Giants could consider making leadership changes if they fell short of expectations again this season. Those rumblings grew louder after the Giants lost six in a row to drop back to .500 earlier this month, but Johnson told the Chronicle that the club had a 2024 opt-out clause for Zaidi that “expired months ago” and emphasized that the organization stands “fully behind him.”

According to FanGraphs, San Francisco’s playoff odds have fallen from 80.4 percent on Aug. 4 to 31.3 percent entering Saturday, but Zaidi has continued to express faith in Kapler, who is also under contract through 2024.

“I look at Gabe’s time here, he’s got one of the top winning percentages of any manager in Giants history,” Zaidi told KNBR’s Adam Copeland and Dieter Kurtenbach on Thursday. “I think he’s in the top 10. He’s obviously won Manager of the Year [in 2021], and I think you look at this season, we started 6-13, we bounced back from that. We had a really rough August and this homestand helped right the ship. I don’t think a team can go through those struggles and come out the other side the way we have a couple times this season without strong leadership. So that’s about as strong endorsement I can give for the job he’s done.

“And again, we don’t aspire to be a team that’s scrapping and clawing to get into the playoffs. That’s the reality this year. There’s an aspiration for us to be better, certainly, but we’ve been a consistently competitive team under his watch. And I think we all appreciate that in terms of the job he’s done.”