While the MLB doesn’t exactly have its own version of the NFL's “Black Monday” – where a siege of coaches get the boot immediately after the regular season ends – there are typically plenty of managerial openings that pop up throughout the month of October.
The San Francisco Giants got the ball rolling this year, relieving manager Gabe Kapler of his duties with three days left in the season. Kapler led the Giants to one playoff appearance in his four seasons as manager. A second-half skid that saw San Francisco go from the top wild card team in the National League to five games out of a playoff spot was his ultimate demise.
With Kapler's dismissal, this offseason becomes even more crucial for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Not many front office executives get a second chance in terms of hiring another manager, but the Giants are apparently trusting the man who won MLB Executive of the Year in 2021 for at least one more season. Who Zaidi decides to be the next San Francisco skipper may very well make or break his future as an MLB executive.
The Giants don’t have the most talented of rosters but they have a loyal fanbase and have not been shy of pursuing big-ticket free agents in recent years, though they've mostly come to no avail. San Francisco hasn’t had a first-time MLB manager since it hired Dusty Baker in 1993. Four would-be first-timers highlight our list of managerial candidates for the team by the Bay.
5. Mark Hallberg
We start with a familiar face to the Giants. Hallberg has been in the organization since 2018 when he was an assistant for San Francisco's Single-A short-season team, becoming the manager a year later. He was then promoted to the big league club where he was an assistant for a season and has since been the Giants' third-base coach, a title he's held the last two seasons.
Hallberg played college baseball at Florida State with Giants great Buster Posey. With Posey now a member of San Francisco's ownership group, the former MVP catcher could give his buddy a vote of confidence to Giants brass. Hallberg may not even need it though and at the very least should be seen as the best internal candidate option for San Francisco.
4. Stephen Vogt
Vogt retired as a player after the 2022 season and immediately jumped into coaching. He joined the Seattle Mariners staff in January as their bullpen and quality control coach and has long expressed a desire to manage. Several of his former managers during his playing days, including Giants legend and current Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, have vogued for Vogt regarding his managerial chops.
Vogt also crossed paths with Zaidi several times during his playing career and the former big league catcher was signed by the Giants executive in 2019. If San Francisco wants to bring in a manager who relates to the players well and is passionate about his position from day one, Vogt may be the ideal candidate.
3. Will Venable
Another former player who quickly turned to coaching, Venable has built a solid coaching resume since he retired from playing in 2017. He was briefly part of the Chicago Cubs front office in 2018 before serving as a base coach for three seasons. He then joined the Boston Red Sox as Alex Cora's bench coach in 2021 before being poached by the Rangers this year.
Venable has served as Bruce Bochy's right-hand man this season with the Rangers, helping lead Texas to its first playoff appearance since 2016. Venable has served his time in professional baseball and is a graduate of Princeton University, so he doesn’t necessarily need the guidance, but there aren’t many people better to learn the managerial ropes from than a three-time World Series champion.
The Giants interviewed Venable for their manager opening after Bochy retired in 2019, with the job eventually going to Kapler. He's interviewed for several other vacancies over the last few seasons, a sign he could be due for a managerial role this winter. Venable, like Vogt, comes highly recommended by those around him and should land a job as manager this offseason, whether it be with the Giants or not.
2. Joe Espada
One of the most respected assistant coaches in baseball, Joe Espada is as good a lock as any to land a managerial job this winter. Serving as the Houston Astros bench coach since the 2018 season, Espada has been an integral part of Houston's success over the last six seasons.
Espada was perhaps the favorite to land the Giants job in 2019 and again will likely be at the top of San Francisco's list. The 48-year-old has been a big league coach for 13 seasons and has a history with Giants general manager Pete Putila, who served as the Astros assistant GM from 2019-2022.
There is an elephant in the room regarding Espada and that's the unknown future of Dusty Baker. If Baker were to retire following the Astors playoff run, it is almost a guarantee Espada would take his place as Houston's manager. The Giants nevertheless should pursue Espada and potentially make him an offer he can’t refuse in an attempt to pry him away from Houston.
1. Bob Melvin
This would be something huh? Imagine Melvin going from San Diego, where he was unable to steer a dysfunctional Padres team chock-full of talent back to the postseason this year, to an inner-division rival in San Francisco.
Despite the obvious hurdle that stands in the way – Melvin is still employed by the Padres and no reports of him being let go have immediately surfaced since the season ended – it's not as far-fetched as you may think.
Melvin's relationship with Padres general manager AJ Preller has been the subject of some controversy throughout San Diego's tumultuous season. Preller has plenty to think about before next February when spring training opens, and one of his first decisions will be whether or not to retain the manager he hired just two years ago.
Melvin led the Padres to the NLCS as a wild card team in 2022 and big things were expected from them this season, only for San Diego to miss the playoffs entirely. There hasn’t been much said about Melvin's role in San Diego's disaster season so there likely aren’t concerns that he can keep a clubhouse together despite the rumored fractures for the Padres this year.
Farhan Zaidi was with the Oakland Athletics from 2011-2014, the first four seasons of 11 in which Bob Melvin managed the team. Simply having a past relationship with Zaidi doesn’t guarantee these candidates will get the Giants job, but Melvin is by far the most qualified and would likely welcome a reunion with Zaidi. If he becomes available, expect San Francisco to come knocking at his door.