Could former Cubs manager Joe Maddon be Giants' Bruce Bochy successor?

Could former Cubs manager Joe Maddon be Giants' Bruce Bochy successor?

After 25 years at the helm -- including the last 13 with the Giants -- Bruce Bochy’s managerial career officially is over. The legendary skipper retired with 2,003 career wins and three World Series titles. He leaves behind a Giants team that finished 77-85 in 2019 and is ushering in a new era under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

Zaidi and the rest of the Giants front office will start their search for a new manager immediately, and there’s one prominent name that just became available: Joe Maddon.

On Sunday, Maddon and the Cubs agreed to part ways after a season where the Cubs missed the playoffs for the first time since he took over as manager before the 2015 season. Maddon led the Cubs to their first World Series championship since 1908 when Chicago defeated the Indians in an epic seven-game series in 2016.

Maddon was one of the first managers to embrace the "analytics" brand of baseball and is well respected around the league. Before taking over the Cubs’ job, he led the low-payroll Rays to the playoffs four times, including the AL pennant in 2008. He owns a 1,225–1,045 career record and wants to keep going.

“I don’t want to wait,” Maddon said of his next managing job. “I’m ready.”

While Maddon’s impressive resume will surely earn consideration from Zaidi, the Giants likely are still a few years away from being true World Series contenders. Maddon might opt for another job that is a little closer to a “win-now” situation than San Francisco, who is waiting for prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano to help create a contender two or three years down the road instead of 2020. 

Furthermore, the Giants might prefer a younger manager who Zaidi can hand-pick to develop with the arc of the team. Dodgers special assistant Raul Ibañez, 47, and Angels special assistant Eric Chavez, 41, are two options that would better fit the trajectory of the team than the 65-year old Maddon.

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Regardless of whether or not Maddon is the next skipper to patrol the Giants dugout, the retiring Bochy spoke glowingly about the job that the next manager will inherit -- whomever that may be.

"You got the best job in baseball. And I mean that,” Bochy told reporters after the Giants’ season-ending 9-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday.

“You know I talk about the owners, our front office. This city, surrounding areas. The ballpark. The fans. He's getting the best job in baseball”.

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

Why Gabe Kapler is so excited to finally manage Giants against Dodgers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants, appropriately, will kick off the Gabe Kapler Era against the Dodgers.

That's where Kapler became a candidate to one day lead a club while serving as a director of player development for four years, where he learned a lot of the methods that he's now putting to use with the rival. Kapler spent plenty of time with the current and next generation of Dodgers stars, and on Thursday he noted it'll be cool to see young righty Tony Gonsolin start against Dereck Rodriguez. He said he watched a lot of Saturday's opponents, including Gonsolin, closely while working for "that other club."

Yes, Kapler is getting into the rivalry already. He wouldn't say "Dodgers" out loud while discussing Saturday's spring opener. 

"I'm just interested in the San Francisco Giants," he said, smiling, when pushed by reporters. "I've got black and orange on and I'm pretty proud of that."

Saturday is a day that Kapler has mostly avoided talking about. When asked about the start of games, he has pointed out repeatedly that the Giants have way too much work to do on back fields and in the bullpens to think too much about the Cactus League season. But it's here now, and Kapler admitted that this will be a meaningful day for him. 

For the first time since 2006, somebody other than Bruce Bochy will be on that top step. That has been an adjustment for the fan base, and many have voiced their displeasure, but the ticket Saturday is still a hot one. Mix a Cactus League opener on a Saturday with the fact that it's Giants-Dodgers and you have the most expensive ticket in spring training. According to TickPick, the average ticket for Saturday's game is $96, more than $25 more than the next hottest spring ticket (a Yankees-Blue Jays game) in 2020. 

[RELATED: Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp]

If the weather cooperates -- it's supposed to rain all day -- Kapler will give the crowd a nice preview of the season. Brandon Crawford has been pushed back a few days because he had flu-like symptoms this week, but the rest of Saturday's projected lineup is full of potential 2020 regulars:

Duggar CF
Longoria 3B
Belt 1B
Posey C
Davis RF
Slater LF
Dubon SS
Solano 2B
Ruf DH
Rodriguez SP

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

Bruce Bochy visits Giants camp, plans to spend time with Gabe Kapler

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval grabbed a glove from his bag, looked up and saw a familiar figure 20 yards to his left. 

"Bochy!" Sandoval yelled, waving. 

Bruce Bochy, the Giants' longtime manager and current special advisor, stayed away early in camp, trying to show respect for the new manager, Gabe Kapler. But with Team France about to start working out in Tucson, Bochy, its manager, drove to Arizona and visited his former players. He said he plans to be around off and on in the coming weeks, and several players made plans to spend more time with Bochy while he's in the area. 

Kapler did, too. He ran over to shake Bochy's hand after live batting practice and the two talked about getting together. Kapler called Bochy a "legend" and said he hoped he would speak with the full team at some point. 

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"That's something I want to talk to Boch about and gauge his comfort level, but I'm really happy he's here," Kapler said. "It brings a lot of energy to the fields and it's nice to look in there and see Boch there."

Kapler and Bochy met during the search for the new manager and they had some conversations after the decision was made. Kapler said they've been in contact since, although it has been a busy period for both men. Kapler had very little time to put together a new staff and he crisscrossed the country meeting with players. Bochy did some traveling, including a visit to Miami for Sandoval's wedding. He now is preparing for World Baseball Classic qualifying. 

Bochy and Team France will play their first game March 13 in Tucson. His brother, Joe, will be his bench coach and his son, Brett, will be one of his pitchers. Bochy's team will be overmatched -- his best player is likely to be former Giant Alen Hanson, who has some French blood -- but he has thrived in those situations in the past.

[RELATED: Why Giants might not name closer before they break camp]

Kapler's first camp since taking over for Bochy has encouraged players to find any possible way to get better, and that's something the manager takes to heart. He is constantly looking for ways to improve. So what can Kapler learn from spending time with Bochy in his first season with the Giants?

"I think Boch has a really good feel for baseball from all angles," Kapler said. "I don't think there's an area of the game that he's not very developed in. Trying to get a real well-rounded view of the game through his lens is going to be really valuable for me. 

"I also think he has a really good way of just connecting with people, players, media, staff. I want to do a lot of listening when I have a chance to sit down with Boch."