Why the SF Giants’ coaching staff will likely look different in 2022


As the Giants continue to win series and march toward their first playoff berth since 2016, high-ranking executives in other organizations are all asking the same question.

How are they doing this?

A Giants team that finished 29-31 in Gabe Kapler’s first season as manager has come out of nowhere to stun the rest of the league this season. San Francisco was the first team to 50 wins, 60 wins and 70 wins and with another dramatic comeback against the A’s on Sunday, the Giants became the first club to reach the 80-win threshold.

Each time a member of the Giants is asked about the team’s success, they almost always point to the team’s depth. Farhan Zaidi built a roster of players who complement each other well as everyone in the lineup has the ability to hit the ball out of the park while the pitching staff has done an excellent job throwing strikes and keeping its team in games all season.

It sounds so simple, but naturally, other teams are curious.

Naturally, losing teams want what the Giants have.

Naturally, other franchises will spend the offseason attempting to copy parts of the Giants’ model, and that process will likely include interviewing and potentially poaching members of Kapler’s coaching staff.

There’s little doubt executives who are seeking to shake up their own field staffs this offseason have already begun to examine how Zaidi and Kapler assembled a coaching staff that continues to draw praise from some of the sport’s most well-respected players in Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria and others.

So when the time comes for teams to hire new managers and revamp their coaching staffs, don’t be surprised when Giants assistants begin to interview with other organizations.

After Kapler’s first year in San Francisco, only one member of his major league staff departed as Ethan Katz left his role as the Giants’ assistant pitching coach to become the pitching coach for Tony La Russa’s Chicago White Sox. In Katz’s first season, the White Sox lead the majors with 10.32 strikeouts per nine innings and rank seventh with a 3.69 team ERA.

This offseason, the exodus could be larger as bench coach Kai Correa, hitting coach Donnie Ecker and first base coach Antoan Richardson are among a group of assistants that could be in demand.

Just five years after coaching at the University of Northern Colorado, Correa could be in line to interview for manager jobs this winter. As the bench coach under Kapler, Correa has played a major role in the in-game decision-making process that’s helped make the Giants even more of a force in the late innings. Kapler makes pinch-hit and pitching change decisions collaboratively and Correa has played a central role in helping the Giants optimize late-game matchups and create platoon advantages.

At 33, Correa is the youngest bench coach in the majors and would be one of the youngest and least experienced managers in the sport’s history, but smart executives won’t be concerned about age during the hiring process. Correa probably isn’t a “likely” bet to land a manager job in the near future, but teams that want to dig into the Giants’ success should put him on their interview list.

The Giants coach who might receive the most interest from outside the organization is Ecker, who has helped transform a club that ranked near the bottom of every relevant offensive statistical category in 2019 to the National League’s most powerful offense.

Any team in need of an offensive makeover should take a hard look at Ecker, who will likely get calls about working as a bench coach for clubs who would also benefit from Ecker overhauling an organization’s hitting infrastructure. Fellow hitting coach Justin Viele and Giants’ director of hitting Dustin Lind should also generate plenty of interest, and given Lind’s title, it’s possible leaving to serve as a team’s primary hitting coach could be viewed as a promotion.

One reason it will be hard for other teams to coax Ecker away from the Giants is that he’s a Bay Area native who grew up rooting for the club. With that being said, the Giants may need to increase Ecker’s pay to keep him in San Francisco.

Several other Giants coaches will be on other teams’ radars this offseason including first base coach Antoan Richardson and assistant pitching coach J.P. Martinez.

Richardson could get looks as a third base coach or a bench coach, which may allow Alyssa Nakken to step into a larger role as the Giants’ first base coach if Kapler is looking to expand her duties next season. Martinez was hired away from the Minnesota Twins to replace Katz, but his tenure could be short as he may emerge as a candidate to be a lead pitching coach elsewhere given the success he’s now had in multiple organizations.

As many teams look to incorporate younger voices and fresh perspectives into their coaching staffs, it’s worth pointing out the possibility that Ron Wotus’ turn to manage a major league club is long overdue. At 60, Wotus is the elder statesman of the Giants’ staff, but he’s an invaluable leader and has played a critical role in guiding the transition from Bruce Bochy to Kapler in the same way he led transitions from Dusty Baker to Felipe Alou and from Alou to Bochy.

The reigning Super Bowl champion head coach, Bruce Arians, didn’t receive his first head coaching opportunity until he was 60, and like Arians, Wotus has the energy, instincts and ability to relate to players that would make him a great fit for several clubs.

At the time Kapler finalized his 13-person major league staff in early 2020, the Giants were criticized for having too many inexperienced coaches and too many coaches who didn’t possess major league playing experience. Over the past two years, the staff has forced everyone to reconsider those evaluations and try to learn more about the coaching techniques that have helped lead to on-field success.

Regardless of sport, the best organizations have talent hired away. Expect it to happen in San Francisco soon.