Giants

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager to succeed Bruce Bochy after long search

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager to succeed Bruce Bochy after long search

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler was considered the favorite to get the Dodgers' manager job before Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi settled on Dave Roberts in November 2015. Four years later, Zaidi is giving Kapler another shot to prove he's a big league manager. 

The Giants announced Tuesday night that they have chosen Kapler as their replacement for Bruce Bochy, further shifting the organization towards analytics and modern methods. Kapler, fired by the Phillies last month, has long been considered an innovator as a coach, but he also has been a lightning rod at points. 

The Giants gave Kapler a three-year contract.

“Our top priority in the next manager was to find someone who can build strong relationships with our players, coaches, front office and fans, and someone who has the drive and desire to win,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement.  “After an exhaustive and comprehensive search, we are delighted to welcome Gabe Kapler as the next manager of the San Francisco Giants.

“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.  This was also echoed in the feedback we received around the baseball community.  I look forward to working with Gabe to help return the Giants to its winning tradition,” continued Zaidi.

The 44-year-old played a dozen years in the big leagues, most of them in the American League, before transitioning to coaching and front office work. Kapler served as Director of Player Development for the Dodgers from 2014 to 2017 and drew positive reviews for his ability to communicate with players and get them to buy in to new methods. 

A cover model for bodybuilding magazines during his playing career, Kapler was part of a push to take junk food out of minor league clubhouses and teach Dodgers minor leaguers how to live a healthier lifestyle. Kapler at one point had a blog that gave health advice.

As a manager, the jury is still out. Kapler got off to a good start in Philadelphia but the Phillies went into the tank down the stretch, finishing 80-82 in his first season. This past season, the Phillies finished 81-81 and in fourth place in the NL East despite a heavy push in free agency that included the signing of Bryce Harper. They were decimated by injuries and Kapler was fired after ownership undertook a lengthy evaluation process in early October. 

"I want to thank Kap for his tireless commitment to the Phillies over the last two years," Phillies GM Matt Klentak said at the time. "When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.

"While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap's efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward."

[RELATED: What Mike Krukow likes about Kapler]

Those who know him say Kapler is a constant source of energy, a strong motivator, and someone who focuses on preparation and attention to detail. Time will tell how that plays in a Giants clubhouse full of veterans, but Zaidi has spent enough time with Kapler over the years to know his strengths and weaknesses. He hinted at a Kapler reunion at the end of the season, saying previous experience would be a boost to any candidacy. Kapler had more of it than most of the other candidates. 

"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."

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler and Velasquez have miscommunication

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.