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.
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.