Zaidi to cast a wide net in bolstering Giants

New president of baseball operations introduced Wednesday

November 7th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Consider everything and overlook nothing. This summarized the flexible attitude that Farhan Zaidi intends to maintain as he attempts to bolster the Giants.
San Francisco's new president of baseball operations has been described as an advocate of modern analytics at the expense of "old school" thinking. That stereotype doesn't stick, Zaidi insisted, and especially won't with the Giants, whose 167-229 record since the 2016 All-Star break is the fourth-worst in the Major Leagues.
• Giants hire Zaidi to head baseball operations
Any baseball executive who subscribes to only one set of beliefs, Zaidi said during his introductory news conference at AT&T Park on Wednesday, is doomed to "leave a lot of opportunities on the table. I think 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."

This indicated that the Giants will at least explore possible trades involving left-hander , their ace and the 2014 postseason hero who remains the ballclub's heart and soul. Bumgarner will become eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, and San Francisco has no desire to allow him to enter the open market without receiving value for him in return.
"He has been a seminal pillar of this franchise for a long time. That carries a lot of weight," said Zaidi, who served as the Dodgers' general manager for the previous four seasons after spending 2004-14 in various capacities with the A's. "At the same time, this is kind of Day 1 for me. I'm eager to get opinions from a wide range of people on what they think makes sense in terms of a broader direction. Everything has to be on the table as far as how we move this team's roster forward."

Zaidi added that he'll welcome all schools of thought.
"When you're a franchise like the San Francisco Giants and you're at that stature, your goal should be to be the best at everything," he said. "It shouldn't be a choice of analytics or scouting or something else."

Giants president and chief executive officer Larry Baer said he was fascinated by the profiles Zaidi delivered on certain players during his initial interview last Sunday, which was originally scheduled to last two hours but grew to 6 1/2.
"Some of them were scouting-based, some of them were analytics-based, some of them were based on recommendations from players," Baer said.

Moreover, Baer was told by someone about Zaidi during the process, "He loves scouting, he loves listening, he loves players, he has the highest integrity possible and he's super-competitive. You put that together, it's a pretty good combination."
But don't expect Zaidi, who received a five-year contract, to swagger into the free-agent pool and suddenly make expensive bids for or Manny Machado. Throwing around the franchise's money in those instances would be foolish, Zaidi implied.
"Baseball's about the entire 25-man roster. No one player and no one move is going to turn the fate of a franchise around," Zaidi said.
As an example of the type of move that Zaidi likes to engineer, he cited the February 2016 swap that required the A's to part with two Minor Leaguers while acquiring from the Brewers. Neither farmhand -- Bubba Derby and -- has developed into much; meanwhile, Davis has slugged 133 homers in three seasons with the A's. It wasn't the type of trade that a team coming off a 68-94 season typically would make, Zaidi said.
"Let's go out and identify value where we see it and just make this team better one move at a time," Zaidi said, articulating his mindset.

Baer said that no role has been defined for Brian Sabean, the Giants' baseball czar for the previous 26 seasons who attended the news conference. Said Baer, "'Imparter of wisdom' -- how's that?"
Zaidi freely discussed the Giants without venturing too far onto a verbal limb. Examples:
• Whether he considered them potential contenders or in need of a couple of rebuilding years: "Our goal is to play meaningful baseball as deep into the season and as soon as we can."
• A brief but "welcoming" telephone conversation he had with manager Bruce Bochy. It has been speculated that Bochy might not take too kindly to Zaidi's reported tendencies to usurp the manager's role of naming each day's lineup.
Zaidi downplayed any possible conflict. "I want somebody who feels empowered to make those decisions," Zaidi said. "Anything that's under the purview of the manager, the manager has final say. Period."

• His impression of the 2018 Giants, who finished 73-89: Zaidi liked their "selfless" spirit, though he acknowledged that the roster could have benefited from more youth.
As for the Giants' Minor League system, Zaidi said, "There are some terrific young arms that are coming up. I'm looking forward to getting to know a little bit more about them and their timetables, because that's obviously going to factor greatly into the next couple of years."
• The first MLB game he attended: An Aug. 10, 1987 classic at Candlestick Park, where Candy Maldonado and Will Clark hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning against Houston to overcome a one-run deficit and generate a 6-5 victory.
"To come full circle today was pretty special," Zaidi said.