San Francisco Giants general manager Bobby Evans steps down

AT&T PARK — After back-to-back losing seasons, San Francisco Giants general manager Bobby Evans will be stepping down from his position, effective immediately, the Giants announced on Monday. He will be reassigned within the organization, with responsibilities to be determined.

Evans, who was in his 25th season seasons with the club, still has one year left on his contract.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that San Francisco would likely pursue former assistant general manager Ned Colleti as Evans’s replacement, as the Giants look to make big changes this offseason, both on the field and off. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean will stay. Apart from that, not much else is certain.

“For this organization to move forward, we will look for someone outside the organization,” said Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean.

San Francisco president and CEO Larry Baer said that the new hire would report directly to him, and have the authority to run baseball operations. Sabean — who will play a role in the search for the new GM — would stay on board as “a valuable resource.”

“What we’re looking for is somebody that’s going to come in, and 24/7, is going to immerse herself or himself in the baseball operation and is going to be fully accountable for the results and putting together the blueprint of the future,” Baer said. “Sort of the next gen of the Giants. That’s the person that we’ll be bringing in.”

The new power structure was not made abundantly clear, and that’s possibly because even the Giants don’t know what it will look like or what they want, outside of someone “next gen.”

It may also be by design: The club could be open to letting the hire dictate the title, duties and whatever other cadre of analysts are brought in. They’re also open to multiple people taking charge, be they male or female.

Baer said that the new general manager will be someone who subscribes to a blend of old and new school, analytics and scouting.

“We made the decision that we needed to take a fresh approach to baseball operations, to bring a new approach to Giants baseball,” Baer said. “… I think we’re looking for someone who’s sort of a next-gen general manager, if you will, somebody’s who going to be head of baseball ops — whatever you want to call the position — somebody that is going to figure out a way to continue our historic success. We’re not that far removed from that success, and I frankly think we have the ability to get back there.”

Evans served as Sabean’s assistant general manager during the team’s five-year run that saw the first three World Series titles won by thy club since it moved to San Francisco. Both Baer and Sabean made a point of praising Evans’s 24-year history with the team, despite its 166-224 record since the 2016 All-Star break, its 11-game winning streak this season and its 98-loss 2017 campaign.

“I don’t step back and think of it in terms of blame, Baer said. “It’s an incredible run and an incredible journey, but it is now time to create the blueprint of the future.”

Since All-Star catcher Buster Posey went on the disabled list with hip surgery this year, the organization has dumped salary — trading expensive offseason acquisitions Austin Jackson ($5 million salary) and Andrew McCutchen ($14.75 million salary) — and made a move to get younger. They’ve brought up top prospects Steven Duggar, Austin Slater, Aramis Garcia and Chris Shaw.

With Hunter Pence largely reduced to a pinch hitting role (he will start Monday’s game against the San Diego Padres), and Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt also having their seasons ended by surgery, the only core member of the three World Series teams still playing an active role on this year’s club — save role players Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco — is Madison Bumgarner. Headed into play on Monday, San Francisco was 72-84.

The next step of restructuring could involve trading Belt — who despite injury is still a reliable 15-homer, 70-RBI bat from the left side — and/or Bumgarner for younger pieces, although neither Baer nor Sabean said any moves were on the horizon.

Sabean — who Evans succeeded as GM in 2015 — hired Evans in 1994 as a minor league administrative assistant. Evans was promoted to director of minor league operations in 1998, director of player personnel in 2005 and vice president of baseball operations in 2009.

“He’s a big part of our family tree,” Sabean said. “I came into the organization in ’93 and I believe Bobby shortly thereafter. We’ve not only grown together in  endeavors professionally with the Giants, we’ve grown together as people and it’s a big part of your lifetime. We’ve never been involved in doing something like this.”

When Sabean was promoted before the start of the 2015 season, Evans took over as GM. Since then, Evans has overseen a series of big contracts that haven’t panned out.

Johnny Cueto signed a six-year, $130 million deal in December of 2015. He missed most of this season and will miss all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery. Jeff Samardzija, since signing his five-year, $90 million deal in December of 2015, has started 74 games (only 10 this season due to injury) and posted a 4.33 ERA. Mark Melancon was signed to a $62 million deal to be the closer, but he’s been little more than a solid middle relief option when he’s even been healthy.

Evans signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million deal before the 2016 season, and during that campaign, traded popular third baseman Matt Duffy and prospect Lucius Fox to the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Matt Moore. That push to reach the playoffs ended in a Wild Card game elimination by the New York Mets. Moore — and his $5 million salary — was traded in the midst of the 2017 season, among the worst in franchise history.

After Span he hit .268 with 23 home runs in 272 games for San Francisco, he too, was dumped.

This year, Jackson and McCutchen were dispatched to stay under the luxury tax threshold amid a slew of injuries and sub-par veteran performances. San Francisco has not hit a grand slam all season, and does not have a single 20-home run hitter.

“I don’t see this organization, no matter who comes in and takes over or who manages in the future turn ourselves into the Broad Street Bullies or become the Yankees because that’s not possible in this park,” Sabean said. “I believe that in this park you have to play baseball and you have to have professional hitters. We suffered this year probably not so much from not hitting home runs as we couldn’t drive in a run. There’s a lot to be said for a two-run single and a three-run double. I don’t know how to answer whether we’re ahead of the curve or behind the curve.”

Sabean was adamant that he’s not going anywhere.

“I’m a Giant,” said Sabean, who served as the club’s general manager from 1996 through the end of the 2014 season. “I don’t see myself anywhere else. I serve at the behest of ownership and firsthand with Larry. As that evolves, I evolve. That’s why I just go back to how I morphed into my current position in ’15. It’s going to be seamless bringing somebody else in. I haven’t been the Wizard of Oz or that override in baseball since the end of ’14.”


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