SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An era is over, that’s certain.
Manager Bruce Bochy is retiring from the San Francisco Giants, and one of his top pitchers — Madison Bumgarner — might be gone, too. And that might just be the beginning in an offseason of change for the franchise.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi begins his second offseason with the Giants and topping his list will be finding a manager to replace Bochy, who won three World Series titles during his 13-year Bay Area tenure. He went out with a surprise send-off in Sunday’s 9-0 defeat to the Dodgers featuring dozens of former players on hand.
“So it was an emotional roller coaster going on the whole day,” Bochy said. “This is a day I’ll never forget.”
The 64-year-old Bochy, who guided the Giants to World Series championships in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14, finished 2,003-2,029 in 4,032 games as a manager over 25 seasons, the first 12 with San Diego before 13 in San Francisco. He went 1,052-1,054 with the Giants, who wound up 77-85 in his final year and with four more wins than last season.
“We obviously came up short so it’s a disappointment in that respect,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “We fought every day.”
San Francisco lost popular third baseman Pablo Sandoval to Tommy John surgery in early September, likely ending his second and final stint with the club.
Here are some things to think about as the Giants head into the offseason:
FREE AGENT MADBUM: Bumgarner will command a huge contract and could very well sign elsewhere as the Giants move forward with a younger roster and smaller payroll.
Bumgarner refused to get wrapped up in the speculation about whether he would be gone midseason, calling it “just noise.” The Giants exercised his $12 million contract option for this year, the last in a $35.56 million, six-year deal he signed in April 2012 that included $12 million club options for both 2018 and ‘19.
“I’m sure I’ll make my way back here one way or another,” he said.
CUETO’S RETURN: Johnny Cueto returned from a 13-month absence following Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery to make four starts in September.
The Giants will count on him as a leader at the front end of the rotation in 2020.
The 33-year-old Cueto completed the fourth season of a $130 million, six-year contract he signed before the 2016 season.
MANAGERIAL SEARCH: One of the first big orders of business for Zaidi will be finding Bochy’s replacement, but that could meaning waiting until coaches on playoff teams are done — so it’s unclear what that timetable will look like.
Bochy said he’s willing to help in the process if Zaidi asks, but isn’t going to interfere.
POSEY’S YEAR: Buster Posey’s power numbers didn’t improve with a new hip. The six-time All-Star had hoped to hit far better after returning from season-ending right hip surgery in August 2018, but he hit just .257 with seven home runs.
“I don’t think I can give you the exact specifics on exactly what I’m going to work on. I’ve got an idea, but I’ll take a little mental, physical break, and then get back after it,” Posey said.
Yet Bochy praised Posey for his consistency catching and working with pitchers despite the offensive struggles.
“I think it says a lot about him. He’s really kept his concentration behind the plate handling these pitchers, his throwing, everything,” Bochy said. “He’s as good as he ever was back there. Sometimes you let the hitting affect other aspects of your game but he hasn’t done that at all. He’s done a tremendous job of handling these pitchers. The hitting part, you can have an off year and get that figured out. Through all that, the most important job for a catcher is handling the pitchers trying to find a way to win ballgames and he’s been relentless with doing that.”
In 2018, he batted .284 with five home runs and 41 RBIs while limited to 105 games. Even throwing seemed to put more stress on his shoulder with the troublesome hip, which needed repair for a torn labrum as well as removal of an impingement.
REGULAR ROSTER MOVES: The roster looked different by the day and while the Giants kept Bumgarner at the trade deadline despite speculation he might be dealt, they swapped relievers Mark Melancon, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.
Second baseman Joe Panik was released in early August in one of the moves Bochy considered among the hardest of his 25-year managerial career.