CARLSBAD — The Giants are waiting to see if Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi will leave Los Angeles to take over the baseball operations department at AT&T Park, but another GM from a rival was a focus early on in the search. Larry Baer hoped to talk to A’s general manager David Forst, but Forst wanted to stay in Oakland, and he ultimately signed an extension.
It’s possible that one of Forst’s best friends in the game could now get the job, and he said Zaidi would be a great fit for the Giants.
“We hired him, he was great. He’s gone to L.A, he’s done great things. He’s a great candidate for that job,” Forst said Tuesday at the annual General Managers Meetings. “It’s a great job, it’s a great organization. He’s been an assistant GM and he’s been a GM of a two-time World Series team. I’m not objective — he’s one of my closest friends in the game and I think he’s great at everything he does.
“He knows the Bay Area. He knows the division. I don’t know what else you would be looking for.”
From the beginning, Zaidi has been high on the Giants’ list. He spent 10 years in Oakland, where he worked his way up from an analyst to the assistant general manager. Zaidi made a huge impression on Forst and Billy Beane during an initial hourlong interview.
“We originally hired Farhan because of his personality,” Forst said. “Not because of his Ph.D. or his analytics chops or whatever. Billy and I really liked him.”
Zaidi has a degree in economics from MIT and a Ph.D. from Cal, but he is viewed as someone who would satisfy Baer and Brian Sabean’s desire to honor “both sides of the room.” Zaidi is well-versed in analytics, obviously, but has always shown an interest in the scouting side of the game.
“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.”
As Forst spoke to reporters, the Giants were waiting for Zaidi to make a decision. It’s one that could have been Forst’s under different circumstances, and he said the Giants’ interest was “flattering.” Many around the game have noted over the past month that the open job in San Francisco is one of the best in baseball, and Forst said he viewed it as a marquee job, even though he ultimately decided to stay in Oakland.
“It’s one of the prime organizations of the game,” Forst said. “I’m totally comfortable saying that, sitting across the water looking at that, at that stadium and that organization. Aside from the three titles this decade, it’s San Francisco and a beautiful stadium that they can sell out when they’re good. It’s a great job. I think Larry has done an incredible job putting them in a position to be a jewel of the industry.”