SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the Giants’ first orders of business this offseason will be finding a new manager to replace Gabe Kapler, who was dismissed Friday after nearly four years with the club.
Kapler became the first San Francisco manager to be axed since Jim Davenport in 1985, ending an uncommon stretch of managerial stability that had extended from Roger Craig to Dusty Baker to Felipe Alou to Bruce Bochy. With president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi potentially entering a lame-duck year, there will be some lingering uncertainty about the long-term direction of the franchise, but Zaidi said he doesn’t expect his situation to narrow the pool of candidates.
“Being the manager of the San Francisco Giants is, I think, one of the most attractive jobs in baseball and professional sports,” Zaidi said. “I don’t really see that as an issue. I think people know that they’d be stepping into a great situation here with a great franchise, great ownership group. A lot of really good young players that we’ve seen for the first time this year. I think we’re going to go cast a wide net. I think there’s going to be a lot of interest.”
Zaidi said he hopes to have a new manager in place before the start of free agency, which will open five days after the conclusion of the 2023 World Series. Here are 11 candidates who could be in the mix to take over the helm in San Francisco:
1. Bob Melvin, Padres manager
A three-time Manager of the Year and a former Giants catcher, Melvin is technically under contract with the Padres through 2024, but there have been reports of a huge rift between him and president of baseball operations A.J. Preller. If Melvin ends up taking the fall for San Diego's massively disappointing season, he could be an ideal fit for the Giants given his Bay Area roots and his familiarity with Zaidi, whom he worked under during his time with the A’s.
2. Buster Posey, Giants part-owner
This might be the dream scenario for Giants fans, but Posey might not be too keen on returning to the 162-game grind, especially since he spoke about his desire to spend more time with his young family during his retirement press conference two years ago. Posey recently moved back to the Bay Area, but he seems more likely to continue to exercise his influence through his current role with the Giants’ ownership group.
“I think he likes what he’s doing right now,” right-hander Logan Webb said. “But obviously, if he were to make a decision like that or put his hat in there, I think there’s not a guy in this clubhouse that wouldn’t like to see Buster, right? I mean, it’s Buster.”
3. Mark Hallberg, Giants third-base coach
If not Posey, then how about Hallberg, his close friend and college roommate at Florida State? Hallberg has been in the Giants organization since 2018 and previously managed the organization’s former Single-A short season affiliate in Salem-Keizer in 2019.
4. Ron Wotus, Giants special assistant to baseball operations
The longest-tenured coach in franchise history, Wotus served under Baker, Alou, Bochy and Kapler before shifting to a front-office role after the 2021 season. He could provide another link to the Giants’ championship era and help connect with fans who have been turned off by the platoon and opener strategies that became commonplace under Zaidi and Kapler.
5. Stephen Vogt, Mariners bullpen and quality control coach
A former Giants and A’s catcher, Vogt has long been viewed as a future manager, so it won’t be long until he gets his first chance to lead a team. He served as Posey’s backup in 2019 and was teammates with a few current Giants, including Webb and Mike Yastrzemski.
6. Will Venable, Rangers associate manager
Venable is the son of former Giants outfielder Max Venable and attended San Rafael High School before going off to college at Princeton. He’s had coaching stints with the Cubs, Red Sox and Rangers and drew interest from Zaidi during the Giants’ last managerial search in 2019.
7. Donnie Ecker, Rangers bench coach/offensive coordinator
Ecker served as the Giants’ hitting coach under Kapler for two seasons before being hired away by Texas following the 2021 campaign. He started his coaching career at his alma mater, Los Altos High School, and has enjoyed a fast rise through the pro ball ranks in recent years.
8. Mark DeRosa, MLB Network analyst
DeRosa led Team USA to a runner-up finish in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which marked his first foray into professional coaching. A University of Pennsylvania graduate, DeRosa played in the Majors for 16 seasons, including a two-year stint with the Giants from 2010-11.
9. Clayton McCullough, Dodgers first-base coach
McCullough knows Zaidi from his time with the Dodgers and reportedly interviewed with the Giants before Kapler was hired in 2019. He was also a finalist for the Royals gig that went to Matt Quatraro last year.
10. George Lombard, Tigers bench coach
Lombard served on Dave Roberts’ staff in Los Angeles before moving to Detroit to work under A.J. Hinch following the 2020 season. He’s managed in the Minors and also held various player development roles with the Red Sox and Braves.
11. Joe Espada, Astros bench coach
Espada was one of three finalists for the Giants opening in 2019 and also worked with general manager Pete Putila in Houston. Still, Espada might be in line to succeed the 74-year-old Baker, whose contract is set to expire this offseason.