Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi hired as Giants' head of baseball operations

Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi hired as Giants' head of baseball operations

CARLSBAD — A few days after shaking up the Giants' baseball operations department, CEO Larry Baer said he would methodically look for a “great baseball mind.”

The Giants now have hired a man known as one of the best in the game.

Farhan Zaidi will switch to the other side of the rivalry, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area and the team later confirmed Tuesday, going from general manager of the Dodgers to president of baseball operations for the Giants. Zaidi, 41, finally will have complete control of his own front office, reporting only to ownership. 

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The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the news, and Zaidi will be introduced at a 1 p.m. Wednesday news conference at AT&T Park. 

For the Giants, this is a coup. Zaidi was high on their wish list from the beginning of a search to replace Bobby Evans, but it always was unclear if they could lure him away from the Dodgers, who are light years ahead of the Giants at the moment when it comes to roster construction and farm systems. The move weakens the Dodgers’ front office while giving the Giants a highly thought-of executive to take the organization in a new direction.

"We set out to find one of the best minds in baseball, and Farhan’s many accomplishments and expertise exceeded our expectations," Baer said in a statement released by the Giants. "Farhan is widely viewed as one of the top executives in our industry, and we are thrilled to have him lead the next chapter of Giants baseball."

Zaidi, who has economics degrees from MIT and Cal, began his career as a baseball operations analyst with the A's. He was promoted to director of baseball operations in 2009 and became their assistant general manager in 2014.

"I am delighted to return to the Bay Area and to join one of the most storied franchises in the game," Zaidi said in the Giants-issued statement. "I have watched the Giants from afar, and I have great respect for the organization’s culture and many accomplishments. I am excited about this new opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting right to work.”

A's general manager David Forst, one of Zaidi's good friends, said he stood out right away

“We originally hired Farhan because of his personality,” Forst said Tuesday. “Not because of his Ph.D. or his analytics chops or whatever. Billy (Beane) and I really liked him.”

With the A’s, Zaidi had his hand in all aspects of player development. He is known for statistical analysis and certainly fits the “next-gen” description that Baer threw out in September, but he's also known as someone who appreciates the scouting side of the game. The Giants still rely on scouting more than most organizations, and finding someone who honored both sides of the coin was an emphasis for Brian Sabean, the former general manager who has served as vice president of baseball operations. 

“He is someone who fit in well with scouts and always wanted to be out at games with guys, and I’m sure he’s continued to do that with the Dodgers as much as possible,” Forst said. “This is the last guy you would sort of pigeonhole as just an analytics person.”

When Andrew Friedman moved from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles, he picked Zaidi as the general manager of what became a powerhouse Dodgers front office. 

“I felt like our skill sets would complement each other really well, and it’s played out as well as I could possibly imagine,” Friedman said. 

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Zaidi joined the Dodgers in November 2014 and helped turn them into the perennial power in the NL West. The Dodgers have won the division six consecutive years and reached the World Series in back-to-back years. They have done so using many of the methods the Giants would like to now emulate, building a strong farm system while selectively adding free agents and finding hidden gems such as Chris Taylor and Max Muncy. 

As the Giants approached a deal with Zaidi, the move was just about universally praised at the annual GM meetings. Zaidi is quite popular in the sport, and is said to be popular in the Dodgers clubhouse as well. One friend joked that Zaidi is a three-time champion of the organization’s high stakes fantasy football league.

The Giants would settle for signs of progress, and they’ve chosen Zaidi as the man to lead them in the years ahead.

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody at the Diamondbacks' spring training facility had uttered the name "Madison Bumgarner," despite seeing him numerous times.

He goes by Mason Saunders for now. That is his alter ego after all -- the one he uses to win cash prizes at rodeo events.

The sports media world had a field day when the information on MadBum's alias surfaced, but D-backs general manager Mike Hazen had his back.

"Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team," Hazen told media on Monday. 

Arizona pitcher Archie Bradley said that resonated with him as well.

"It's great. I personally have a lot of respect for Mike Hazen, but that was something I was actually talking to CC Sabathia yesterday," Bradley told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. "You're seeing this new wave where guys aren't afraid to showcase the other side of their life. I think there's kind of been this build of 'You just have to be a baseball player.' LeBron started with 'More Than an Athlete,' I think guys are kind of catching on."

He also loves the fact that MadBum now is on his team instead of facing him as much as he did during their NL West matchups when Bumgarner was on the Giants. MadBum has made a huge impression on the 27-year-old.

"He just raises everyone's level of awareness and preparation," Bradley said. "When you win a World Series, that holds a lot of weight, it puts your name in bold font. You know, Madison Bumgarner is a big-time name, not only because of his talent level, but because of how he competes, but how he's won."

"When you add a guy like that who is very old school and very hard-nosed, you kind of perk up a little bit."

[RELATED: MadBum's young teammates ready to see what he's about]

Bradley said MadBum, after winning multiple World Series championships, is bringing that mentality to his new team in Phoenix. 

"This is a guy that has not only done it but is vocalizing how he wants to do it here."

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Joey Bart already displayed his power with an opposite-field homer on his first swing of the spring. Sean Hjelle gave us a glimpse of his potential with a 95-mph fastball

Both Giants prospects are in big league camp this spring, while others like Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop are not. On Tuesday, however, both young center fielders joined the big squad for a game against the Chicago White Sox. 

Bishop, the Giants' first-round pick in last year's draft, believes the front office won't shy away from calling young players up if they play well for their respective team. 

"I think it's been apparent to a lot of the minor leaguers that if you perform, you'll get rewarded," Bishop said to reporters before Tuesday's game. "People are gonna say they're not gonna worry about their performance, but I think everyone that's human does. If I can just take it day by day and at-bat by at-bat, then hopefully something good will turn out." 

Farhan Zaidi has echoed the same message for quite some time now. Bart and Ramos both made it to Double-A by the end of last season, and figure to have a shot at the bigs this season. 

Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, knows San Francisco is in a bit of a rebuild right now. That doesn't mean he will shy away from bringing  young stars up to San Francisco

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said late last month on KNBR. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

Bishop, 21, played seven games in the Arizona Rookie League after the draft. He then joined the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for 25 more in Class A Short Season. Between the two levels, he hit .229 with five homers and an .867 OPS. 

With his powerful swing and keen eye at the plate, Bishop could be a quick riser in the farm system. The former ASU Sun Devil needs to cut down his strikeouts, though, and that will be a big factor for him this year and beyond. As for where he starts the season, Bishop couldn't care less. 

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"For me, whatever team I'm on -- help them win," Bishop said. "That's really all I can control. I can't control where I'm gonna go or what team I'm gonna make. If I can just worry about what I can do and help the team win, that's all I'm focused on for this season." 

The Bay Area native certainly has his eyes set on San Francisco. For now, he's looking to improve in all aspects of the game and end every day with a win.