Zaidi new­est Gi­ants’ ex­ec­u­tive.

For­mer A’s, Dodgers ex­ec­u­tive Zaidi hired to make Gi­ants con­tenders again

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Kerry Crow­ley kcrow­ley@ba­yare­anews­group.com

SAN FRAN­CISCO >> Farhan Zaidi was hired to fix ev­ery­thing.

But the Gi­ants’ new pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions re­vealed Wed­nes­day that his ul­ti­mate goal is to make Bay Area traf­fic worse.

“See­ing the three Gi­ants pa­rades on the lo­cal news and hear­ing my friends com­plain about how it was mess­ing up their com­mutes, I have first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence with those,” Zaidi said. “That’s the goal, I hope we’re mess­ing up peo­ple’s com­mutes with pa­rades very soon.”

The last time the Gi­ants marched down Mar­ket Street, Zaidi was a wun­derkind as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager and one of the most valu­able front of­fice as­sets for the A’s. Four years af­ter ac­cept­ing a job as the Los An­ge­les Dodgers gen­eral man­ager, Zaidi is back in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia on ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fer­ent terms.

Af­ter agree­ing to a five-year con­tract Tues­day to serve as the Gi­ants’ high­est-rank­ing front of­fice ex­ec­u­tive, Zaidi is tasked with chart­ing the course for the fu­ture of a fran­chise in need of a tal­ented, pre­cise cap­tain.

Make no mis­take, this is Zaidi’s ship to steer.

“There cer­tainly hasn’t been any talk about re­stric­tions or lim­i­ta­tions in terms of do­ing what we think is right,” Zaidi said.

Dur­ing Zaidi’s in­tro­duc­tory press con­fer­ence at AT&T Park on Wed­nes­day, Gi­ants CEO Larry Baer took to the podium along­side his new­est hire and de­voted his open­ing re­marks to ac­knowl­edg­ing the ser­vice of Brian Sabean.

The pri­mary ar­chi­tect of Gi­ants clubs from 1997-2014, Sabean took a step back from his day-to-day role as gen­eral man­ager fol­low­ing the team’s third world cham­pi­onship un­der his watch. How­ever, as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions, he sat atop the or­ga­ni­za­tional hi­er­ar­chy in 2018.

The Zaidi era has of­fi­cially be­gun and that is no longer the case.

“I think it’s go­ing to be re­ally clear, there’s not a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity, (Zaidi) is the ac­count­able one,” Baer said. “But Brian has so much in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge. He’s avail­able for ad­vice and strate­gies, knows the or­ga­ni­za­tion. There’s huge value in that.”

What will the Zaidi regime look like?

If his first day on the job is any in­di­ca­tion, the Gi­ants’ front of­fice will be open for busi­ness and open to in­no­va­tion around the clock. Af­ter ini­tially block­ing out two hours to in­ter­view Zaidi on Fri­day, Baer said the duo en­joyed a “trans­for­ma­tional” dis­cus­sion that lasted more than six. Zaidi com­pleted a sec­ond in­ter­view Sun­day, met with ad­di­tional mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion Mon­day and ac­cepted a job of­fer Tues­day.

He’s al­ready talked shop with man­ager Bruce Bochy, dis­cussed or­ga­ni­za­tional philoso­phies with Sabean and dis­cussed po­ten­tial gen­eral man­ager can­di­dates with Baer. Af­ter meet­ing with the press Wed­nes­day, Zaidi was hop­ping aboard a plane to catch the fi­nal hours of MLB’s gen­eral man­ager meet­ings in Carls­bad.

Zaidi is al­ready run­ning at full speed, but that shouldn’t come as much of a sur­prise. He clearly un­der­stands how much ground the Gi­ants have to make up. Nei­ther Zaidi nor Baer plan to over­see a fullscale re­build. But nei­ther ex­ec­u­tive is ready to ex­press an ex­pec­ta­tion to con­tend as soon as next sea­son.

“I just think with where we are as an or­ga­ni­za­tion right now, we have to cast as wide of a net as pos­si­ble and not put too many la­bels on what this process is go­ing to be other than to make smart and sound de­ci­sions,” Zaidi said.

In­stead of con­coct­ing a plan to put forth a play­off-cal­iber squad right away, Zaidi will as­sess the ros­ter’s strengths and weak­nesses and steadily work to add value. In Los An­ge­les, his ac­qui­si­tions of tal­ents such as Max Muncy and Matt Kemp helped lay the ground­work for a pen­nant win­ner. In San Fran­cisco, his ap­proach to build­ing depth won’t change.

“No move is too small to not be worth a cer­tain level of ef­fort and de­tail,” Zaidi said.

Though ac­quir­ing tal­ent for the mid­dle and back end of a ros­ter is a skill Zaidi has dis­played in both Oak­land and Los An­ge­les, his ré­sumé is some­what lack­ing in the su­per­star depart­ment. Dur­ing a fouryear ten­ure with the Dodgers, Zaidi never inked a player to a con­tract worth at least $100 mil­lion.

In his first win­ter with the Gi­ants, he could rec­og­nize the value in build­ing around a gen­er­a­tional player like free agent out­fielder Bryce Harper. The fran­chise has the re­sources and all that Baer has asked is that Zaidi takes a prag­matic ap­proach to ad­just­ing the ros­ter.

“We need to ac­cu­mu­late more tal­ent through­out the sys­tem, and there’s an art with how to do that,” Baer said.

While the Gi­ants aren’t shred­ding their foun­da­tion, Zaidi and Baer have ac­cepted that the ros­ter’s core must change. No move is off lim­its, even a trade that might force San Fran­cisco to part ways with ace Madi­son Bum­gar­ner.

“He’s been a sem­i­nal pil­lar of this fran­chise for a long time and that car­ries a lot of weight,” Zaidi said. “At the same time, this is kind of day one for me. I’m ea­ger to get opin­ions from a wide range of peo­ple on what makes sense in terms of a broader di­rec­tion. I think with where we are ev­ery­thing has got to be on the ta­ble in terms of how we move this team and ros­ter for­ward.”

If ev­ery­thing is on the ta­ble, noth­ing is sa­cred.

It’s the re­al­ity the Gi­ants chose to ac­cept in hir­ing Zaidi and the new, bold way they must con­sider their fu­ture. Al­le­giances to stars like Bum­gar­ner and Buster Posey will still ex­ist, and the le­gacy the fran­chise has worked so dili­gently to cul­ti­vate will re­main.

But Wed­nes­day’s press con­fer­ence rep­re­sented a chang­ing of the guard. The new guard means a new way of do­ing busi­ness.

As Zaidi proved by fly­ing south to Carls­bad, that busi­ness has al­ready be­gun.

KARL MON­DON — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Gi­ants CEO Larry Baer, left, says pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions Farhan Zaidi will be the team’s high­est rank­ing base­ball ex­ec­u­tive.

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