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Giants interested in Rays bench coach

Matt Quatraro becomes the latest candidate in a clear trend.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The reliable Tampa Bay Rays beat writer Marc Topkin tweeted that the Rays’ current bench coach, Matt Quatraro, has been added to the Giants’ list of interviewees for Bruce Bochy’s old job. This would be the seventh semi-confirmed name (only three or four have actually been confirmed to have interviewed: Meulens, Wotus, Kotsay, and Grifol) for the candidate pool, which presently looks like this:

  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Ron Wotus
  3. Mark Kotsay
  4. Pedro Grifol
  5. Gabe Kapler
  6. Will Venable
  7. Matt Quatraro
  8. TBD

That 8th spot is there because Farhan Zaidi said in his season-ending press conference that the pool would include 6-8 candidates beyond the two internal applicants (Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus), so that should mean we’ll hear at least one more name.

He also said that there’s a leap of faith in hiring a dude who has never managed before while also proclaiming that managers tend to do a little bit better the second time around. That latter bit points to Kapler or maybe even Bob Geren (currently the Dodgers’ bench coach), but everything else suggests that the new Baseball Operations department wants a newbie in the role.

(Didn’t include Mike Matheny because I never believed he was a real candidate. Not that the Royals’ beat writer was making up a story — possible he just misheard. In any case, we have this Schulman tweet to save us from the fear of a Matheny hire. Not definitive, but soothing.)

Again, figure it has to do with hiring a guy for cheap with the idea of running the field decisions by a malleable, inexperienced proxy. It’s maybe easier to think of baseball front offices and the players/coaches they employ as being akin to the drone pilot-drone relationship. Which drone design suits the front office best?

Bench coaches are logical candidates because they have plenty of responsibilities and are, essentially, the second in command. In Quatraro’s case, he’s exactly two weeks out (Oct. 31) from celebrating his 1-year anniversary of being the Rays’ bench coach. Last season, he was their third base coach. Here he is mic’d up:

Prior to that, he was Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach from 2014-2017, and before that, he was the Rays’ minor league hitting coordinator from 2010-2013.

It’s his minor league experience that might prove to be the most remarkable part of his resume. He was in the Rays’ organization as a player for seven seasons, but couldn’t get beyond Triple-A, finally retiring in 2003. He was the first player in the org’s history to hit for the cycle (when he was in Class-A Charleston).

As a player, he “was primarily a catcher, and also saw time at first base and corner outfield”, which sounds like a Farhan creation already. On paper, it would seem to give him the insight necessary to communicate to Jeff Samardzija and Buster Posey while they will be playing multiple positions in the same inning or whatever wild crap the team has planned next year.

He not only coached in the minor leagues, but managed, too, all at the Class-A level. He has a vaguely similar background to the Rays’ previous bench coach, Charlie Montoyo, who became the Blue Jays coach this season, and who was hired for bench coach at the same time Quatraro became the Rays’ third base coach. Montoyo was far more successful as a minor league manager — he also served as a coach on Team Puerto Rico for the 2009 WBC — but what links them is their ties to player development.

I don’t see an obvious connection between Qautraro and the Giants and he’s a candidate firmly from “back East”, so he would seem to have gotten on the team’s radar through his association with the Rays, one of the most advanced teams, analytics-wise, in professional sports. And being the second in command of one of the best forward-thinking teams in the sport makes his spot on the list even more logical.

That means we might see Houston’s Joe Espada or New York’s Josh Bard wind up on this list before long (pending the outcome of the ALCS) and maybe even Washington’s Chip Hale, if the interview process drags beyond the World Series. Hale, in particular, has a Bay Area connection, an A’s connection, and a track record of minor league and major league management.

Or it could be none of those guys and the Giants might be close to wrapping up the candidate pool. It certainly feels like the team is preparing to go in a radically different direction for their next man on the top step (if not a quality control coach, then a bench coach), and until we determine his positions on Brandon Belt and the Dodgers, it will be virtually impossible to have a firm opinion of him.

(Unless it’s Gabe Kapler.)