PHOENIX — The first significant on-field changes for the Giants actually happened before free agency started. Phil Nevin and Jose Alguacil were added to the staff as base coaches, and at the GM Meetings on Tuesday, Bobby Evans shed light on what made each an ideal choice.
Alguacil, who will coach first, has been a rising star in the organization for several years. Evans said the front office has actually viewed Alguacil as a strong coaching candidate since his playing days. Alguacil was an infielder in the system from 1993 to 1998 and was offered a coaching position when that period came to an end. He chose to continue playing elsewhere, but his minor league career lasted just three more seasons.
“When he was let go (as a player) we grabbed him as quickly as we could and added him to our system,” Evans said.
Alguacil was a roving instructor in the minors for eight seasons, working closely with big league bench coach Ron Wotus during his visits to big league camp. In 2015 he took over as manager at Double-A Richmond, the first sign that the front office had a big role in mind. He spent last years managing the Triple-A club.
“He’s a very committed baseball man and understands the game and how to teach the game,” Evans said. “He has a lot of enthusiasm for the players and I think they sense that he’s behind them.”
Alguacil, known throughout the organization as “Agui,” was also in consideration to take over at third base after Roberto Kelly was let go, but the front office viewed first base as “a good first step.”
“This was really the next step for the development of his career, to get on the Major League staff,” Evans said.
The third base job went to Nevin, a longtime big leaguer who came close to getting a bigger role elsewhere. Nevin came from the Diamondbacks, where he was the Triple-A manager. Evans offered him the third base job but had to wait and see how the Diamondbacks’ managerial search played out. Nevin was the runner-up to Torey Lovullo.
“He’s someone that came highly regarded into the interview process, and as we met with him we could see a lot of the things that a lot of clubs like about him from a managing perspective,” Evans said. “This was a good opportunity to bring him up here.”
Nevin got a strong recommendation from Bruce Bochy, who managed Nevin when he played for the Padres.
--- From earlier today, here’s my story on the search for a closer. There’s more coming from Phoenix, both in written and podcast form. If you’re not subscribing already, here’s where you can find the podcast.
--- I attended an Arizona Fall League game last night to see some Giants prospects. Three of them — Hunter Cole, Aramis Garcia and Ryder Jones — were in the lineup. At one point, all three reached to load the bases for a man named Tim Tebow. He flied out. All the reports about him are true, by the way — not a prospect.
Jones had three hits, Garcia had two, and Cole had one. You can see Garcia drive Jones in here. Where they really impressed, though, was on defense. Cole showed off a very strong arm in right field and Garcia, a catcher, made two perfect throws to second to catch base stealers. Jones has mostly played third in his career, but he looked like a natural at first, with several slick scoops and a diving stop. It should be noted, given what the big league roster looks like, that he’s playing some left field this fall.
--- There was a lot of talk about a Madison Bumgarner extension in the days after the season ended, but Giants officials later insisted that it was overblown. They had simply touched base with Bumgarner’s agents to keep the lines of communication open. Evans said Tuesday that there have been no negotations in recent weeks.
“At the right time, we’ll address it with him,” Evans said of a new deal. “We’re open to timing that feels right for both sides. We’re in the middle of free agency right now and looking at trade options, and we’re focused on next year’s club. It’s probably hard to see us wrapping our head around (an extension) right now.”
There’s no rush for either side. Bumgarner is under team control through 2019.