Exploring candidates for next Giants manager

October 24th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three weeks into the offseason, the Giants remain preoccupied with finding their next manager after watching Bruce Bochy sail off into retirement at the end of the regular season.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he expects to interview eight to 10 candidates for the job, a process that will likely be drawn out by the surfeit of managerial vacancies across Major League Baseball. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Astros bench coach Joe Espada was to spend Thursday in San Francisco undergoing his second interview for the Giants job; his first came via phone.

In addition to the Giants, the Royals, Pirates and Mets are also looking to hire new managers this offseason. Four teams -- the Angels, Cubs, Padres and Phillies -- have either hired or could soon announce their new skippers.

At least one candidate who had been viewed as a potential fit for the Giants -- former Major League outfielder and current Dodgers special assistant Raúl Ibañez -- is no longer in the mix, as he told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick that he isn’t interested in pursuing managerial opportunities at this time.

Here’s a look at the Giants’ additional managerial candidates.

The internal candidates

Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens: Meulens, 52, has emerged as a top managerial prospect in recent years and finished runner-up to Aaron Boone in the Yankees’ search two years ago. A former Major League outfielder, Meulens has spent the last 10 seasons on the Giants coaching staff, serving as the hitting coach for eight years before being elevated to Bochy’s bench coach. While he has not managed in the Majors, Meulens has significant experience in the international arena, as he skippered the Netherlands during the 2013 and ‘17 World Baseball Classic.

In his current role as bench coach, Meulens assisted Bochy with in-game strategy and oversaw the outfield defense instruction, positioning and preparation. Known as a strong communicator, Meulens is a polyglot who can speak English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Japanese, allowing him to easily bridge any cultural divides in the clubhouse.

Giants third-base coach Ron Wotus: Wotus is the longest-tenured coach in Giants history and has worked under three managers -- Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bochy -- since joining the organization in 1998. The 58-year-old served as the club’s bench coach from 1999-2017 before shifting back to third-base duties ahead of the ‘18 season.

Wotus is responsible for infield instruction, positioning and strategy, as well as baserunning. He has a long track record of managerial success in the Minor League, earning two Manager of the Year awards while posting an overall record of 554-412 (.574) across affiliates ranging from Class A to Triple-A.

The external candidates

Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler: Kapler, 44, was dismissed by the Phillies following a rocky two-year tenure as manager. He is drawing interest from the Cubs and is also scheduled to interview with the Giants, according to a report from MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman. 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.

Kapler, who played in the Majors for parts of 12 seasons, was viewed as the frontrunner to replace Don Mattingly as the Dodgers’ manager four years ago, though he was ultimately edged out by Dave Roberts. Kapler later received his first opportunity to manage in the Majors with the Phillies, who went 161-163 (.497) under his watch and failed to meet the high expectations that were placed on them following the acquisitions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen last offseason.

During his end of season press conference, Zaidi said he understood the benefits of hiring a candidate with previous managerial experience, as he felt they were better positioned to grow from past stumbles.

“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.”

A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay: Kotsay, 43, interviewed with the Giants, according to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. He, too, has background with Zaidi, who worked in Oakland’s front office while Kotsay played for the A’s. After a 17-year playing career in the Majors, Kotsay joined the Padres as a special assistant and hitting coach. He was a candidate for the managerial opening that eventually went to Andy Green four years ago in San Diego.

Kotsay has spent the past four seasons on the A’s coaching staff -- first as Bob Melvin’s bench coach and most recently as the quality control coach, a role that allows him to serve as a conduit between the front office, the players and the rest of the coaches.

Royals quality control and catching coach Pedro Grifol: Grifol, 49, doesn’t appear to have any obvious connections to Zaidi, but he is highly regarded within the industry and interviewed with the Giants, according to a report from MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal. An All-American at Florida State, Grifol played in the Minors for nine seasons as a catcher and spent 13 years working in the Mariners organization before joining the Royals in 2013.

He has served as a special assignment coach, hitting coach, quality control coach and catching coach in Kansas City, helping Salvador Pérez capture four of his five career Gold Gloves. Grifol has interviewed with the Tigers and Orioles in recent years, and he is also in the running to succeed Ned Yost as the Royals’ next manager.