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Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have found Bruce Bochy’s successor.

The club agreed to terms on a three-year contract with former Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, who is set to become the team’s next manager. Kapler will be officially introduced at a press conference on Wednesday at Oracle Park.

Kapler emerged from a pool of at least nine candidates and was one of three who received at least two interviews for the chance to hold a job last manned by Bochy, a three-time World Series champion. The other finalists were current Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.

“Probably the key thing that we were looking for, and the most important trait, if we could summarize it in one sentence, for the next manager was somebody who was capable of building trust and relationships with both players and the front office,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on a conference call with beat writers.

Kapler spent the last two years managing the Phillies, posting a 161-163 record over two seasons. The Phillies fired Kapler in the days following the 2019 season after the team failed to live up to owner John Middleton’s expectations.

Despite Kapler’s subpar record, Zaidi said many players and other members of the Phillies organization chose to vouch for his managing skills during the Giants’ hiring process.

“In the process, I received unsolicited texts and phone calls from players and people in the Phillies organization from people to endorse his candidacy from many phone numbers that I didn’t even recognize,” Zaidi said. “That was really impactful.”

Kapler, 44, spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues as a player, appearing for six different organizations and winning a World Series in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox. Prior to being hired in Philadelphia, Kapler worked under Zaidi, a former Dodgers general manager, as the franchise’s director of player development.

During his time in Los Angeles, Kapler reportedly mishandled sexual assault allegations against Dodgers minor league players, opting to try and deal with matters without involving proper authorities. Throughout the Giants’ hiring process, Kapler’s involvement in handling sexual assault allegations was discussed in depth and there were some members of the organization who preferred the team choose a different candidate.

Zaidi addressed concerns regarding Kapler’s handling of the incidents on Tuesday, accepting part of the blame while attempting to highlight what he and Kapler learned from the experience.

“The biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong questions,” Zaidi said. “We asked what do we have to do instead of what is the right thing to do. I can only speak for myself, I’m truly sorry from my perspective that I didn’t ask the right questions and address things appropriately.”

Espada emerged as the primary challenger for the job and had many fans in the organization, but Kapler’s relationship with Zaidi and prior experience managing in the majors likely put him over the top.

New Giants general manager Scott Harris, who was introduced on Monday, also interviewed Kapler and Espada with the Cubs in October while Harris was serving as the team’s assistant general manager. Harris didn’t have much time to play a part in the Giants’ hiring process, but he was familiar with Kapler as a candidate by the time he arrived in San Francisco.

“We were really impressed by the records checks we did on Gabe around the game,” Harris said. “There were many players, coaches and executives that spoke glowingly of Gabe and to his work ethic, experience in the game and his ability to inspire development at the major league level.”

The search to find Bochy’s replacement began immediately following the regular season when Zaidi announced the Giants would interview two internal candidates, bench coach Hensley Meulens and third base coach Ron Wotus.

Neither Meulens nor Wotus advanced past the first round of interviews and after Meulens left to accept a job on the Marlins’ coaching staff, it’s unclear whether Wotus will remain with the organization in 2020.

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