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.

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

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Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident


San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident

San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a statement Monday calling on Major League Baseball to issue sanctions on Giants CEO Larry Baer over a March 1 incident involving his wife, Pam.

“When the incident first occurred involving Larry Baer and his wife, the San Francisco Police Department immediately began an investigation,” Breed said in the statement posted on her website. "That investigation is ongoing, but regardless of the outcome, Major League Baseball needs to send a message that any and all acts of violence against women is unacceptable.

"The letter written by several respected women leaders in our domestic violence community echoes an all too familiar reality where incidents involving violence against women are not met with true accountability. While Mr. Baer has apologized and expressed remorse for his behavior, it does not excuse his actions and it does not erase what transpired. Mr. Baer’s actions were serious and wrong. We are a City that loves and supports our San Francisco Giants, and that means holding our organization and its leaders to the highest of standards.

“Every little girl, every woman should be able to attend a Giants game with a clear sense of the organization’s values. I share in the call to action by the women who have written the Commissioner calling for greater accountability. There must be a stronger public reaction and response to violence against women in our City and our country.”

The letter that Breed references in her statement came from a dozen San Francisco community leaders, who wrote to MLB that they’d like to see Baer disciplined. The San Francisco Chronicle cited portions of the letter, which told MLB their stance is about “… the responsibility that you, as well as the board and executive leadership of the Giants organization, have to fairly enforce MLB policy, as you would had it been a major league player in that video, rather than a high-profile CEO.”

MLB issued a statement on the day of the incident, saying: “Major League Baseball is aware of the incident and, just like any other situation like this, will immediately begin to gather the facts. We will have no further comment until this process is completed.” MLB has not commented since then.

The San Francisco district attorney’s office told the Chronicle on March 8 it hadn’t decided if charges should be filed and that police had been investigating the situation.