Giants' potential manager list grows

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SAN FRANCISCO — As the Giants continue their search to find Bruce Bochy’s replacement, it’s increasingly clear what kind of qualities the franchise is looking for in a prospective hire.

Most of the candidates Farhan Zaidi is interviewing are young, currently employed by successful organizations and lacking previous MLB managerial experience.

Two people who were connected to the Giants’ search on Thursday fit that criteria.

Joe Espada, the Houston Astros’ bench coach, and Matt Quatraro, the Tampa Bay Rays’ bench coach, are both reportedly in the mix to lead the Giants. Jon Heyman of MLB Network first reported the team’s interest in Espada while Quartraro was tied to the Giants by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Espada, 44, is also in the mix for the manager job with the Chicago Cubs after the team parted ways with Joe Maddon, the new Angels manager, following the season. The last Astros bench coach under current manager A.J. Hinch to leave the team for a new job was Alex Cora, who helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in his debut season in Boston.

Espada worked in the Yankees organization as a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman prior to taking over for Cora at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Puerto Rico native has managed in the Puerto Rican winter league and has served as a coach for the national team.

Quatraro, 45, only has one season of experience as the Rays’ bench coach but has spent the past two years with the organization, as he coached third base in 2018. Prior to a four-year stint as the Cleveland Indians assistant hitting coach from 2014-2017, Quatraro was Tampa Bay’s minor league hitting coordinator.

Both candidates were drafted and worked their way through the minor leagues as players, but neither advanced to the majors.

Espada and Quatraro join several other candidates who the Giants are reportedly interested in interviewing for the open manager job. Zaidi announced that Giants coaches Ron Wotus and Hensley Meulens were internal candidates while the team would consider anywhere from six to eight external candidates.

Aside from Espada and Quatraro, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, Oakland A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay, Kansas City Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol and Chicago Cubs first base coach Will Venable are also reportedly under consideration.

Former St. Louis Cardinals manager and former Giants catcher Mike Matheny’s name has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, but it’s not clear if Zaidi will interview him.

New York Yankees bench coach Josh Bard is another name to watch as the process continues. Bard was a special assistant and bullpen coach for the Dodgers during Zaidi’s tenure as the general manager in Los Angeles.

The group of candidates that has emerged thus far is relatively surprising considering comments Zaidi made immediately following the regular season. When asked about the mechanics of a manager search, he noted that previous MLB experience may give candidates an upper hand.

“I do think that experience is a real potential benefit, especially in the short-term,” Zaidi said. “Having been around some first-time managers, I’ve seen that the learning curve can be pretty steep.”

One part of the search process that shouldn’t be overlooked is the information-gathering taking place. The Giants are interested in learning more about the dynamics and coaching structure of some of the most successful organizations, and interviews with candidates who have prior experience working in Oakland, Houston, Tampa Bay, Chicago and New York suggests they’re accomplishing that mission.

It does not, however, suggest there’s a favorite for the job or even a small group of front-runners at this point.

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