Giants

Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris give Giants front office they envisioned

Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris give Giants front office they envisioned

SAN FRANCISCO -- A year ago, as Giants ownership set out to revamp the baseball operations department, members of the organization talked about the model they had seen in Chicago. The Cubs and Dodgers were two shining examples of what a modern front office could be, with a president of baseball operations working side by side with a general manager. 

Larry Baer turned to the Dodgers to find Farhan Zaidi, his president. Zaidi turned to the Cubs to find the man who will try and help him rebuild the Giants. On Sunday the Giants announced that Scott Harris, previously the assistant GM for the Cubs, will be their general manager

Harris has been viewed as a rising star in baseball circles, having spent most of his professional career as part of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer's inner circle in Chicago. He was part of the group that finally put together a championship roster in Chicago, and Zaidi believes Harris' skill set will mesh with his own. In Chicago, Harris served as director of baseball operations and then assistant general manager. 

"The combination of his breadth of experience, contributions towards building a championship-winning perennial contender in Chicago, and his Bay Area roots made him an ideal fit," Zaidi said in a statement.

Harris, 32, is a Redwood City native who went to UCLA and then got his MBA from Northwestern while working for the Cubs. As he explained to The Athletic earlier this year, Harris got into baseball by writing letters to executives around the sport. Al Rosen, a former Giants executive, responded and became a mentor. 

Harris started with the Reds and then worked for the commissioner's office. He joined the Cubs as a 25-year-old and got his MBA in part by flying back to Chicago from spring training every weekend so he could grind through Saturday classes. 

With the Cubs, Harris assisted in player acquisitions, contract negotiations and evaluations and oversaw the organization's research and development department and salary arbitration process. Those who have worked with him describe Harris as an extremely hard worker, but also someone who is easy to get along with and laid-back in general, which should fit well with the front office that Zaidi is building.

Zaidi was part of a similar group in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers used their resources to put together a talented front office that had complementary skills. In recent years, Giants officials marveled at the size of the analytics department that worked near the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, and the Giants appear on their way to mimicking that kind of staff. 

The Cubs had a similar setup, and in Zaidi and Harris, the Giants have two top executives who have been on the front line for two organizations that are as advanced as any in the game. The Giants had plenty of success with the previous regime, winning more titles this decade than any other franchise, but it became clear that they had fallen behind in a lot of areas. 

They have not fully lost their luster, though. Harris always was headed for a GM seat, and in Zaidi and the Giants, he saw an opportunity to work for an organization that should be a perennial power. The Giants have the resources to do anything they want, but they had stopped developing stars.

Harris helped do just that in Chicago, and he'll now be a huge part of the braintrust in San Francisco.

[RELATED: Giants can dive into free agency with zero tax concerns]

There's one more significant hire to make, and the Giants expect to announce a manager early this week, adding a third piece who now will work alongside Zaidi and Harris. The Giants have been remarkably quiet about their plans, but sources said that in recent days Astros bench coach Joe Espada has emerged as the favorite.

Perhaps the Harris announcement is a sign of things to come. Harris still was working for the Cubs last month when Espada finished second to eventual managerial choice David Ross. 

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.