The Giants announced Tuesday they signed former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler to a three-year contract to fill the managerial vacancy left by Bruce Bochy, who retired after the 2019 season after 13 seasons with the team.
Kapler’s hiring comes on the heels of the team’s Sunday announcement that they selected former Cubs executive Scott Harris to fill the club’s general manager post.
Known for a more analytics-based management approach, Kapler was fired from his position in Philadelphia last month after just two seasons. He posted a 161-163 record managing the Phillies across the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
Before taking the position in Philadelphia, the 44-year-old previously served as the Director of Player Development for the Dodgers, during which time he crossed paths with current Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi in the latter’s role as Los Angeles general manager.
Zaidi said in the course of their search for a new manager the Giants sought someone with the drive and desire to win:
“In my personal experience in working with Gabe, there is no one who works harder and is more committed to getting the best out of the people around him …I look forward to working with Gabe to help return the Giants to its winning tradition.”
The executive said he made the decision to recommend Kapler to the ownership group based on input from people throughout the Giants organization, including coaches and players, as well as those throughout the baseball community.
He said they reached out specifically to players, coaches, and front office staff from the Phillies organization:
“Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In the process, I received unsolicited texts and phone calls from players and people in the Phillies organization to endorse his candidacy from many phone numbers that I didn’t even recognize, so that was really impactful for me, and I think for all of us in recognizing that in the Phillies organization many of the people there felt that he had been a real contributor in improving things over the last couple years.”
Harris, too, had the chance to weigh in on the decision since coming onboard Sunday, and he said he was afforded the unique opportunity to interview Kapler twice, once in Chicago when the former-Phillies skipper was being considered to fill the managerial position for the Cubs, and again for San Francisco.
He offered enthusiastic support of the Giants selection, and seconded Zaidi’s assertion that favorable references played a significant role in the decision to hire Kapler:
“It’s rare that you get to participate in two managerial searches in one offseason, but both with my time in the Cubs organization and the Giants organization we were really impressed by the reference checks that we did around the game on Gabe. There were many players, coaches and executives inside the game that spoke glowingly about Gabe’s
aptitude, his work ethic, his experiences in the game and his ability to inspire development at the major league level, and we found that extremely valuable and extremely persuasive.”
Zaidi said he hopes Kapler can build strong relationships, not only in the clubhouse but also with the Giants fanbase.
Some, however, view the decision to hire him with skepticism because of the widespread criticism of his management style in Philadelphia.
During his tenure with the Phillies, he came under fire repeatedly for poor communication on and off the field. On two separate occasions, he made pitching changes before relievers were adequately warmed up.
Many others are critical of Kapler’s involvement in a February 2015 incident during his time with Los Angeles in which he allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl by a Dodgers minor leaguer.
Many fans took to Twitter to speak out against the Giants selection.
Kapler denied mishandling the alleged sexual assault at the time on his personal blog, and Zaidi, who was still the Dodgers GM at the time, addressed the incident Tuesday night:
“The biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong question. We asked, ‘What do we have to do?’ instead of, ‘What is the right thing to do?'” I can only speak for myself, [but] I’m truly sorry that from my perspective, I didn’t ask the right questions and, and address things appropriately.”
Zaidi said he views the incident as a “learning experience” and hopes to move forward with that in mind to hold the Giants organization to the “highest standard.”
He also said that many of the media depictions he’s seen of Kapler in recent weeks are incongruous with the man he’s known both professionally and personally since his time with the Dodgers, and he hopes Giants fans will take the time to get to know Bochy’s successor.
“I feel really optimistic and confident that once our fan base gets to know him, they’re going to know the person that I’ve known personally and professionally, and be really excited about him as our next manager.”
Kapler played parts of 12 seasons from 1998 to 2010 in the majors, spending time with the Tigers, Rangers, Rockies, Red Sox and Brewers and was on the 2004 World Champion Red Sox team.
The incoming manager will take questions at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.