'I belong here': Giants ink Kapler through '24

2-year extension for MOY finalist, who led SF to franchise-record 107 wins, West title

November 13th, 2021

The Giants announced their first major signing of the offseason on Friday, rewarding manager Gabe Kapler with a two-year extension after he led San Francisco to a franchise-record 107 wins in 2021.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the new deal stretches Kapler’s contract through the 2024 season. He was initially signed to a three-year contract when the Giants hired him as the 39th manager in team history in November 2019.

“I love working with the people in San Francisco,” Kapler said. “In particular, I love working with our staff and our front office. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with everyone across the organization. I feel like I’ve really enjoyed getting to know our fanbase and feel like San Francisco is home now. This feels like an endorsement of what I already felt, which is that I belong here.”

An extension for Kapler had been anticipated, as he would have been entering the final year of his contract in 2022. He’s 136-86 (.613) since joining the Giants, who finished with the best record in baseball this past season and dethroned the 106-win Dodgers to win their first National League West title since 2012. Los Angeles edged San Francisco in the playoffs, though, dispatching the Giants in five games in an epic NL Division Series matchup.

“Anytime you have a season like we did, winning 100-plus games, getting to the playoffs and building a lot of positive momentum and your manager is going into the last year of his deal, it’s really a high priority to get that taken care of,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “I know that there’s been a lot of conversation about what we have to do roster-wise, but this was really at the top of our list. I’m thrilled we were able to get it done in such short order.”

Kapler, 46, is viewed as the front-runner to win the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s NL Manager of the Year Award for 2021. He was named one of three finalists earlier this week, joining the Brewers’ Craig Counsell and former Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt. The winner is scheduled to be announced on MLB Network at 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

“I think he deserves to win Manager of the Year,” general manager Scott Harris said. “I think he did a phenomenal job. The results speak for themselves. I think Kap’s pregame preparation is excellent, but what makes Kap special is his commitment to making adjustments to new information from coaches, players and what the game is telling him. I think he brings a competitive advantage to our dugout every time he steps out there. I think he’s a huge reason why we won 107 games this year.”

Kapler was a polarizing pick to replace the beloved Bruce Bochy, who won three World Series titles during his 13-year managerial tenure with the Giants. Kapler arrived after two underwhelming seasons with the Phillies, where he went 161-163, and also drew scrutiny following reports that he mishandled assault accusations against two Dodgers Minor Leaguers while serving as Los Angeles’ director of player development.

Still, Zaidi, who worked with Kapler in Los Angeles, held firm in his belief that Kapler was the right choice to lead the club. Kapler subsequently worked hard to change minds, posting a 29-31 record in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign before steering the Giants back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 in his second season at the helm.

“I feel like I was given an opportunity to show our organization and some people in the city and in the Bay that I can do a really good job in this role,” Kapler said. “I don’t take that opportunity lightly. Taking it a step further, I think we’re always earning our opportunities. I think that’s just going to be fluid. It’s a work in progress. I think every day I take that responsibility of sort of leading the club in the dugout very seriously, but I also take every opportunity as something that I can take advantage of and help this organization because I’m working so hard to achieve the goals that we all have in common.”

Kapler drew praise from players for maintaining open lines of communication throughout the regular season, seeking feedback on workloads and roles to ensure he was consistently putting his team in the best position to succeed. He also excelled when it came to optimizing matchups and effectively deploying his weapons off the bench, with the Giants crushing a Major League-record 18 pinch-hit home runs in 2021.

“I think what he’s done has even exceeded our high expectations,” Zaidi said.

Kapler has also been a champion for diversity, assembling an innovative coaching staff that not only helped get the most out of Giants players, but also featured several coaches from underrepresented communities. He hired Alyssa Nakken, the first woman to serve as a full-time coach for a Major League team, and recently added a Spanish-speaking hitting coach in Pedro Guerrero and a native Japanese speaker in Taira Uematsu, who was the Giants’ longtime bullpen catcher before being promoted to assistant coach last week.

“I’m proud that we have, if not the most diverse staff in baseball, we’re right there with any other club,” Kapler said. “I continue to think that that diversity will lead to better decision-making. I believe we saw some fruit of that. We saw the fruits of our labor in that way in 2021. I think that has a lot to do with every player in our clubhouse having somebody on our staff to relate to. So that’s something that I’m particularly proud of.”