Farhan Zaidi pledged the manager search would be “a true process.” Not a quick one.
Three weeks after Bruce Bochy managed his final game with the Giants, his seat is not filled, with the team’s president of baseball operations churning through interviews. It began with the in-house options, third-base coach Ron Wotus and bench coach Hensley Meulens, before Zaidi reportedly moved on to:
— A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay;
— Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol;
— Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro;
— Astros bench coach Joe Espada;
— Cubs first-base coach Will Venable.
Gabe Kapler, whom Zaidi knows from Los Angeles and who was fired by Philadelphia, also figures to be in the mix. Yankees bench coach Josh Bard also may enter the ring after New York was recently eliminated from the playoffs. If all of the above get interviews, that would be nine candidates; Zaidi pegged the number to be between 8-10.
The common denominators appear to be youth, coaches with offensive backgrounds and coaches from mostly successful organizations.
Quatraro stands out, a name who wasn’t on any of the projected lists but who comes from a well-respected team and was an assistant hitting coach with Terry Francona’s Indians.
The Athletic reported Monday that Kotsay entered his interview with Zaidi as a perceived favorite. Kotsay, a California native who went to Cal State Fullerton, knows Zaidi from Oakland and was the Padres hitting coach in 2015.
“There’s no favorite,” Zaidi said, referring to both manager and GM openings, at his end-of-season news conference three weeks ago. “Let alone somebody who has either job in the bag. It’s going to be a true process. And we’re trying to build up a list of compelling candidates to go through.”
If there is a reason for Zaidi to expedite the process, it’s because of competition. Espada, in particular, reportedly has had two interviews with the Cubs for their managerial opening, and a coach who has awaited so long for his shot in the big seat probably will not pass up the first offer he gets.
Espada, who has been a candidate for numerous positions over the last few years, had been both an executive and coach with the Yankees prior to Houston landing him as its bench coach. It is hard to find two better organizations to grow in.
Apart from the looming Kapler, not one known candidate for the job has had managerial experience in the majors. Zaidi called experience a “potential advantage,” but that’s as far as he would go.
“There is a leap of faith that you have to take if you’re going to hire a manager who hasn’t done it before,” Zaidi said. “But if nobody ever did it, then we would just have the same pool of candidates. And nobody would ever get another opportunity.”
Longtime skippers such as Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker have had interviews with other organizations, but have not been reportedly linked to the Giants job. As Bochy steps down following 25 years as a big-league manager, his successor will be much greener.