February 27, 2024

The San Diego Padres granted permission for manager Bob Melvin to interview with the San Francisco Giants, sources told ESPN, paving the way for an interdivision managerial change and the end of a contentious two-year relationship between Melvin and the Padres.

While league sources believed the idea of Melvin emerging as the top candidate in San Francisco was logical, the rarity of one manager jumping to a division rival while still under contract dampened the possibility. Granting permission makes Melvin the clear favorite for the San Francisco job, though because he’s still under contract with the Padres for one year at $4 million, the team could pursue compensation if he is the Giants’ choice to replace Gabe Kapler.

The Padres said in early October they intended to retain Melvin and general manager A.J. Preller, even after the slow fracture of their partnership as the Padres’ near-$250 million roster produced 82 wins and a third-place finish in the National League West. Melvin’s arrival in October 2021 had been seen as a coup for the Padres, as he left his job — while still under contract with the Oakland A’s — after 11 seasons, with 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 proclamation that both would return for the 2024 season.

“From my standpoint, a lot’s been overblown,” Preller said when announcing his and Melvin’s return. “There are reports we don’t speak, and we’re talking four or five times a day. Personally, we have a friendship. All those things, I don’t put a lot of stock into the unnamed reports and sources and stories that are out of context. I think it’s really hard to comment on those things unless you have real specifics and details and names attached to those things.

“Bob is our manager,” Preller added then. “He’s going to be our manager going forward. A lot’s been said, obviously, in the last few weeks, but both he and I are very excited about the challenge of getting this group back to the postseason next year. From that standpoint, a lot’s been said, and I think with Bob and myself, I think, just even in the last couple days, you get a chance to recap and look at some different things, and both of us feel really good with where things are at moving forward.”

The Giants’ request for permission to talk with Melvin, first reported by The Athletic, came early in the week, sources said. Were Melvin — who has also previously managed Seattle and Arizona and has a career record of 1,517-1,425 — to be hired, it wouldn’t be the first time a Padres manager under contract left for San Francisco. After 12 seasons as San Diego manager, Bruce Bochy absconded to San Francisco, where he won three World Series.

San Francisco has been unable to recapture its glory days since Bochy, now managing the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series, retired and was replaced by Kapler before the 2020 season. The Giants fired Kapler on Sept. 29, three days before the end of a 79-83 season that wasn’t as disappointing as the Padres’ but saw attendance flatline. It was the second consecutive mediocre season after an NL West-winning 107-55 campaign in 2021.

San Francisco had already talked with internal candidates, including bench coach Kai Correa, third base coach Mark Hallberg and assistant coach Alyssa Nakken, who became the first woman to interview for a major league managerial position. If Melvin does go to San Francisco, he is expected to receive relative autonomy in filling out his staff, with only a few coaching holdovers certain, sources said.

San Diego, with a star-filled lineup that includes Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, would immediately become the one of the more attractive jobs available. Should Melvin leave, the new manager would be the fourth full-time hire for Preller since he joined the Padres in 2014. Two internal candidates are likely to receive significant consideration, sources said: 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 3½ years running the Cardinals, he went 252-199 with playoff appearances in each of his three full seasons. St. Louis surprisingly fired him following the 2021 season, in which it went 90-72 and lost in the NL wild-card game. Flaherty, 37, spent eight years as a major league utilityman and was promoted to bench coach and offensive coordinator before 2023 after spending the previous four years as a quality-control coach.

While rare, managers have jumped to division rivals still under contract. The most recent occurrence followed 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, which traded reliever David Carpenter back to Boston.

Currently, three teams in addition to San Francisco are looking for new managers: Cleveland, where Terry Francona stepped away from managing; the New York Mets, who fired Buck Showalter; and the Los Angeles Angels, who declined the option on Phil Nevin’s contract for 2024.

Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, regarded as one of the game’s best, could hit the open market, too, with his contract set to expire at the end of the month.

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