The San Francisco Giants fired manager Gabe Kapler on Friday after a late-season collapse that dropped the team out of playoff contention and prompted questions about the franchise's direction going forward.
The firing was made with three games remaining in the season and the Giants sporting a 78-81 record. In a statement, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he made the "recommendation to ownership" to fire Kapler and then did so after "receiving their approval."
"It is a disappointment to say goodbye," Kapler wrote on Instagram on Saturday. "I felt a genuine connection, perhaps not to everyone everywhere, of course, but to most."
"I felt like I had the chance to help people grow and people helped me to grow, and I am grateful for the opportunity. We didn't win enough to satisfy me or our fans; that sucks."
Kapler, 48, took over as Giants manager in 2020 and by 2021 had shepherded the club to a 107-55 season -- the only time in the past 11 years a team finished ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. The Dodgers beat the Giants in the division series that year, and San Francisco struggled to replicate its success last season en route to an 81-81 record.
While owner Greg Johnson had committed to keeping Zaidi and Kapler on through at least the end of their contracts in 2024, he backtracked on Kapler, opening up another managerial spot in a winter that is expected to be loaded with vacancies.
Cleveland's Terry Francona will retire after this weekend, and the statuses of Milwaukee's Craig Counsell, Houston's Dusty Baker and the Los Angeles Angels' Phil Nevin -- whose contracts are expiring -- as well as the New York Mets' Buck Showalter and San Diego's Bob Melvin remain in question.
In the days after the All-Star break, the Giants looked well on their way to a rebound. They were a season-high 13 games over .500 and just 1½ games back of the Dodgers. Since July 18, San Francisco's 24-40 record is the second-worst in the NL, and the Giants have fallen behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and Padres in the standings.
The frustration burbled toward the surface in recent weeks, as the Giants wrapped up a September in which they went 8-18.
Ace Logan Webb, who is 11-13 this season despite leading the NL in innings pitched and strikeout-to-walk ratio, said this week: "I'm tired of losing. It's not enjoyable. It's not fun. We have to make some big changes in here to create that winning culture that we want to show up every single year and try to win the whole thing."
Zaidi said Friday that the Giants played their "worst baseball when it mattered the most."
"To go out on that last road trip still in the wild card, still controlling our own destiny, and then playing the way we did when we controlled our own destiny, those are hard to watch for everybody," Zaidi said. "It was hard for the players to go through, it was hard for fans to watch, it was hard for us as an organization to watch. That sort of really accelerated our view that we need to make difficult decisions and think about things differently."
With only $110 million committed to their payroll in 2024 -- and just $45 million in 2025 -- the Giants are expected to be players in free agency this winter, including targeting superstar Shohei Ohtani.