Giants

Farhan Zaidi sees growth since he last considered Gabe Kapler as manager

Farhan Zaidi sees growth since he last considered Gabe Kapler as manager

SAN FRANCISCO -- New Giants manager Gabe Kapler was one of the people Farhan Zaidi spoke to the most when he left the A's to become the general manager of the Dodgers. Perhaps at that time, Zaidi thought he would soon hand Kapler a jersey, hat and the manager job. On Wednesday, nearly four years after the first time Zaidi introduced a new manager to the media, he finally got to do it with Kapler. 

Kapler was thought to be the favorite when the Dodgers started looking for Don Mattingly's replacement, but Dave Roberts ended up getting the job and since has earned an extension. Kapler, then the Dodgers' director of player development, finished as the runner-up. 

"In all candor, I think one of the questions we had was who was going to be the best leader at the time for that clubhouse," Zaidi said Wednesday. "On the one hand I think Doc (Roberts) has proven himself to be a very worthy choice and the right choice, but I think in that process we might have underestimated Gabe's leadership abilities in the clubhouse, and that's one reason we really dug into his experience in Philadelphia and sought to get references and talk to players and staff there."

The Giants dug deep, talking to Phillies players and members of the front office that let Kapler go in early October. One team official said Wednesday that a high-ranking Phillies executive told the Giants that 29 other teams would be lucky to have Kapler, but that the situation in Philadelphia had just run its course. 

"I have to say I was a little overwhelmed by the unsolicited texts and phone calls I got from players and staff in Philly supporting his candidacy here and talking about how well-respected and liked he was in the Philadelphia clubhouse," Zaidi said. "Obviously the team didn't live up to expectations and they felt they needed to make a change, but I think he's a much better candidate to lead a team and be a Major League manager now than he was when we evaluated him in Los Angeles and even when he began his managerial tenure in Philadelphia. 

"That's kind of been a theme of ours through this process, is having a growth mindset and getting better at the job, and I think he's done that and will continue to do it."

There was other due diligence to be done, of course. The Giants initially planned to talk to two internal candidates -- Ron Wotus and Hensley Meulens -- and eight-to-10 overall. By the end of October, they were down to Kapler, Houston's Joe Espada, Kansas City's Pedro Grifol and Tampa Bay's Matt Quatraro. By Monday, people throughout the organization felt it was Kapler vs. Espada, with Zaidi truly conflicted on which way to go. The conversations and interviews continued into the evening on Monday. 

[RELATED: How Kapler plans to handle core of Giants' veteran lineup]

Zaidi ultimately chose Kapler, setting up a situation where two men who could have been running the Dodgers four years ago now will try and loosen their stranglehold on the NL West, with Kapler going up against a former teammate. Kapler and Roberts played together in 1998 on the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Kapler drove in 146 runs that season and Roberts scored 71 in just 69 games. 

"He was on base so often for me, he hit at the top of the lineup and I hit a couple of batters later," Kapler said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "But then we stayed in touch over the years. I was kind of wrestling with the disappointment of not getting the position as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and my happiness and my feeling good for Dave Roberts.

"It is something that I can play around with (Zaidi) and kind of bust his chops on. But I know that those decisions are made collaboratively and I don't hold any one person responsible or accountable for them."

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.