The San Diego Padres have given manager Bob Melvin permission to interview with the San Francisco Giants, sources told ESPN, paving the way for a management change between the divisions and the end of a contentious two-year relationship between Melvin and the Padres.
While league sources thought the idea of Melvin emerging as a top candidate in San Francisco made sense, the rarity of a manager moving to a division contender while still under contract diminished that possibility. Granting permission makes Melvin the clear favorite for the San Francisco job, although he is still under contract with the Padres for one year at $4 million, and the team could receive compensation if he is the Giants’ pick to replace Gabe Kapler.
The Padres said in early October that they intended to keep Melvin and general manager AJ Preller, even after the slow unraveling of their partnership as the Padres’ nearly $250 million roster racked up 82 wins and third place in the National League West. Melvin’s arrival in October 2021 was a coup for the Padres, as he left his job — while still under contract with the Oakland A’s — after 11 seasons, an 853-764 record and six playoff appearances. Trust between him and Preller never developed, and sources believed their relationship was beyond repair despite the public announcement that both would return for the 2024 season.
“In my opinion, there’s a lot of exaggeration,” Preller said when announcing his and Melvin’s return. “There are reports that we don’t talk about, and we talk four or five times a day. Personally, we have a friendship. All these things, I don’t care much about reports and sources and unnamed stories. I think it’s really difficult to comment on these things unless you have details and details.” And real names are associated with these things.
“Bob is our manager,” Preller added at the time. “He’s going to be our coach of the future. A lot has been said, of course, in the last few weeks, but he and I are very excited about the challenge of getting this group back to the postseason next year. And in that sense, a lot has been said, and I think with Bob and I, “I think even just in the last couple of days, you’ll get a chance to recap and look at some different things, and we both feel really good about things moving forward.”
The Giants’ request for permission to speak with Melvin, which was first reported by The Athletic, came early in the week, sources said. If Melvin — who previously managed Seattle and Arizona and has a career record of 1,517-1,425 — is hired, it would not be the first time a Padres manager has left under contract for San Francisco. After 12 seasons as San Diego’s manager, Bruce Bochy fled to San Francisco, where he won three World Series.
San Francisco has been unable to recapture its glory days since Bochy, who now manages the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series, retired and was replaced by Kapler before the 2020 season. The Giants fired Kapler on September 29, three days before the end of the 79-83 season that was not Disappointing as the Padres were but saw consistent attendance. It was their second straight mediocre season after a 107-55 NL West win in 2021.
San Francisco has already spoken with internal candidates, including bench coach Kai Correa, third base coach Mark Hallberg and assistant coach Alyssa Naquin, who became the first woman to interview for a major league managerial position. If Melvin goes to San Francisco, sources said, he is expected to have relative autonomy in filling out his staff, making sure there are only a handful of coaches remaining.
San Diego, with a star-studded lineup that includes Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, will instantly become one of the most attractive positions available. If Melvin departs, the new manager would be Preller’s fourth full-time hire since joining the Padres in 2014. Sources said two internal candidates would likely receive significant interest: senior adviser Mike Shildt and bench coach Ryan Flaherty.
Shildt, 55, is a former St. Louis Cardinals manager who joined the Padres before the 2022 season. In his three-and-a-half years managing the Cardinals, he went 252-199 with a playoff appearance in each of his three full seasons. St. Louis surprisingly fired him after the 2021 season, going 90-72 and losing in the NL Wild Card game. Flaherty, 37, spent eight years as a major league player and was promoted to bench coach and offensive coordinator before 2023 after spending the past four years as quality control coach.
Although it is a rare occurrence, managers have jumped to division rivals with whom they are still under contract. The most recent occurred after the 2012 season, when Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell went to the Boston Red Sox. As compensation, the Red Sox sent infielder Mike Aviles to Toronto, who traded reliever David Carpenter to Boston.
Currently, three teams in addition to San Francisco are looking for new managers: Cleveland, where Terry Francona has stepped away from management; New York Mets, who fired Buck Showalter; and Los Angeles Angels, of Rejected option on Phil Nevin’s contract For the year 2024.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, considered one of the best players in the game, could hit the open market as well, as his contract is set to expire at the end of the month.
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