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Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

@mi_guardado
November 13, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- During his end-of-season press conference last month, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he understood the benefits of hiring managers with previous experience in the Majors. “I think what we've seen with managers is that there's a learning curve,” Zaidi said. “A lot of times

SAN FRANCISCO -- During his end-of-season press conference last month, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he understood the benefits of hiring managers with previous experience in the Majors.

“I think what we've seen with managers is that there's a learning curve,” Zaidi said. “A lot of times guys do better and have more traction their second time around because of the lessons that they've learned.”

Zaidi is now taking that bet on Gabe Kapler. The Giants announced Tuesday that they’ve signed Kapler to a three-year contract as the 39th manager in franchise history and the 17th in the San Francisco era. He will replace Bruce Bochy, who stepped down in September after 13 seasons and three World Series titles with the Giants.

Kapler will be introduced during a press conference at Oracle Park on Wednesday at 12 p.m. PT.

“Probably the key thing that we were looking for and the most important trait, if we could summarize it in one sentence, was somebody who was capable of building trust and relationships with both players and the front office,” Zaidi said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday night. “In my experience with Gabe, and as we went through the interview process and got to learn more about him, it became clear to us that he was the person who could best execute on that.”

Kapler, 44, became available after he was dismissed by the Phillies last month following a rocky two-year tenure as manager. The Phillies went 161-163 (.497) under his watch and didn't meet the high expectations that were placed on them following the acquisitions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen last offseason.

Still, Zaidi said he received unsolicited text messages from players and other people in the Phillies organization who spoke positively of their experiences working with Kapler in Philadelphia. Zaidi said he also consulted several Giants players, though he declined to disclose which ones. Kapler spent the final two years of his playing career with the Rays, where he overlapped with third baseman Evan Longoria.

Kapler has ties to San Francisco’s front office, as he worked as the Dodgers’ director of player development from 2014-17 under Zaidi, who previously served as Los Angeles’ general manager. He was a finalist for the Dodgers job that ultimately went to Dave Roberts in November '15. Zaidi was among those to recommend Kapler to the Phillies, who gave Kapler his first opportunity to manage in the Majors two years later.

“He just worked tirelessly every day to make the organization better,” Zaidi said. “I think he took that as a challenge every day, and I think he was successful in that.”

Zaidi addressed a situation that emerged earlier this year regarding reports that Kapler had mishandled assault allegations leveled against two Dodgers Minor Leaguers during his tenure as the club’s director of player development. Zaidi was the Dodgers' general manager at the time of the allegations.

“We had the opportunity to talk to people in the community and talk to experts to try to learn and understand what we did and what we did wrong,” Zaidi said. “As I’ve had time to reflect on it, I realized the biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong question. In those situations, we asked, ‘What do we have to do?’ instead of, ‘What is the right thing to do?’

"I can only speak for myself. I'm truly sorry that, from my perspective, I didn't ask the right question and address things appropriately. Just speaking for myself, I view it as a learning experience, and it's something that I want to take into the future in this organization and hold us to the absolute highest standard.”

A former outfielder, Kapler played parts of 12 seasons in the Majors for the Tigers, Rangers, Rockies, Red Sox, Brewers and Rays. He finished with a .268 batting average, 82 home runs, 77 stolen bases and a .749 OPS over 1,104 career games and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004.

The Giants reportedly interviewed 10 candidates for their managerial vacancy, including Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol, A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay, former A’s manager and Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren, Dodgers field coordinator Clayton McCullough and former Cubs first-base coach Will Venable.

Two internal candidates -- bench coach Hensley Meulens and third-base coach Ron Wotus -- also interviewed for the position, though they were not among the finalists. Meulens is expected to join the Marlins’ coaching staff, but Wotus’ status remains unclear.

Another member of Bochy’s coaching staff, bullpen coach Matt Herges, also left to become the D-backs’ new pitching coach earlier this month.

Zaidi said the Giants may have an announcement regarding the coaching staff on Wednesday, though he reiterated that the group likely won’t be finalized until Kapler provides his input.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.