New GM Harris ready for 'partnership' with Zaidi

November 11th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- New Giants general manager Scott Harris grew up in Redwood City, approximately 25 miles south of Oracle Park, yet his early baseball loyalties drew him outside the Bay Area and toward Chicago.

“I grew up in a split household,” Harris said. “My dad is from Chicago. He grew up a huge Cubs fan. My mom is from San Francisco. She's a Giants fan. So, they divided the sons. I was raised a Cubs fan, my brother was raised a Giants fan, which put my nephew Teddy in an awkward spot because his dad loves the Giants and his uncle was working for the Cubs. Now, at least Teddy has a little more clarity.”

After seven seasons with the Cubs, the 32-year-old Harris was formally introduced Monday as the 10th GM in Giants history. He will work alongside president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in an effort to reverse the string of three consecutive losing seasons and return the Giants to a perch of perennial contention.

“As we got to know each other in this process, I was just really impressed with the person, the character, the creativity, the thought process,” Zaidi said. “I’m just really excited about bringing Scott on board and being able to work with him to take the Giants into the future.”

Here’s a look at some key questions that were addressed during Harris’ introductory press conference:

How will Zaidi and Harris split the baseball operations workload?

Harris joined the Cubs in 2012 as director of player operations, a position he held for five seasons before being promoted to assistant general manager in January 2018. Under president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer in Chicago, Harris was given the freedom to work across several departments, assisting in player acquisitions, contract negotiations and player evaluations, as well as overseeing the research and development team. That flat structure allowed Harris to develop a wide-ranging skill set, which he believes will serve him well in his new role with the Giants. Rather than delegate specific tasks to Harris, Zaidi expects to collaborate closely with him in all of the front office’s decision-making, viewing him more as a partner than an underling.

“I know there's been some conversation about how our relationship may work and how we might divide up responsibilities,” Zaidi said. “As Scott and I have talked about it, I really view it as a partnership leading our baseball operations group together. I don't necessarily see us dividing up departments or reporting lines. I think it's going to be a really collaborative effort. That's something that I hope we have as the joint baseball operations leadership.”

Added Harris: “We both expressed an interest in keeping it nebulous because that's what he had in L.A. [with the Dodgers] and that's what we had in Chicago. I think that's really important because I see this relationship being a close collaborative relationship, full of debate, full of challenging each other, full of trying to put the Giants first. I think an element of these types of relationships that is very beneficial for the organization is we should have the opportunity to free each other out to work on some of the bigger ideas, some of the concepts and philosophies that will push the Giants forward.”

What is Harris’ view of the Giants organization?

Harris hopes to use the next 30 days to familiarize himself with the Giants’ internal evaluations of their players, but he said he was impressed with the direction that Zaidi began to chart for the club last season. In Zaidi’s first year as president of baseball operations, the Giants used a franchise-record 64 players, many of whom were acquired via trade or waiver claim to help improve the organization’s overall depth.

“My candid assessment of them in the last 12 months is that Farhan did an excellent job cobbling together some depth and being opportunistic in difficult situations,” Harris said. “Obviously, the Trade Deadline presented a decision point for him last year. I thought he did an excellent job with the trades that he made. We were targeting several of the players that he acquired, which was impressive to us from afar.”

Harris said he was particularly “struck” by Zaidi’s ability to trade reliever Mark Melancon -- and the roughly $18 million remaining on his contract -- to the Braves in exchange for right-hander Tristan Beck.

“I thought he did an excellent job,” Harris said. “I'm looking forward to learning more about the roster from the Giants lens. I have the Cubs lens and outsider perspective. But I think I'll feel more comfortable assessing them from multiple perspectives once I understand all the information that they have internally here.”

How quickly does he believe the Giants can contend?

In 2016, Harris presented his father with his World Series ring after the Cubs finally won their first championship in 108 years.

“Our goal is going to get a ring for Mom now,” Zaidi said.

The Giants are coming off yet another disappointing season and don’t appear well-positioned to contend in the National League West in 2020, but Harris believes a turnaround could come sooner than expected.

“The one thing I will say about my experience in Chicago is that it can happen really fast,” Harris said. “It certainly did for us, going from 2014 to 2015. And I know it has happened really fast in Farhan’s career, too. That's certainly the goal for us. We’re going to try to compete as much as possible on and off the field to put us in a position to transform like we did in Chicago.”