How Giants lured Farhan Zaidi from Dodgers as new president of baseball ops

How Giants lured Farhan Zaidi from Dodgers as new president of baseball ops

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a booth for visiting general managers in the press box at AT&T Park, and when games are over they generally grab their stuff and take the elevator down to the concourse, where they can walk to the visiting clubhouse.

That’s what Farhan Zaidi would usually do when visiting with the Dodgers, but after the final game of the season, a blowout win for the visitors, Zaidi was compelled to stick around. The Giants were honoring Hunter Pence, and Zaidi decided to watch. 

“As the ceremony started, I wound up staying up there, and I got a chance to hear Hunter and (Bruce) Bochy speak,” Zaidi said Wednesday. “On the last day of a tough season, the number of fans who were still there to show their support for Hunter and the team was really special to see. That was the embodiment of what this organization is.”

Zaidi didn’t know it at the time, but the Giants already were plotting to potentially have him lead the organization he was admiring in that moment. Larry Baer let Bobby Evans go with a week to go in the season in part because he was eager to start the search for a new head of baseball operations, and from the very beginning, Zaidi was one of three to four names at the very top. Baer would not reveal which other executives had frontrunner status, but Chaim Bloom of the Rays was one of them, and it’s believed that MLB’s Kim Ng was up there, too. 

The Giants cast a wide net, even as Baer hoped to zero in on names at the top of his wish list. He consulted with Major League Baseball and friends around the game. Baer even briefly considered one candidate who works as an executive in another sport.

Zaidi was a priority from the start, but Baer could not interview him until after the Dodgers completed postseason play. When Zaidi left AT&T Park after the final game, there was a possibility he could become available after the Wild Card Game. But the Dodgers won the West, and the Giants were asked to wait until after the NLDS, and then they were asked to continue waiting. 

The Giants did not want to sit around for a month if Zaidi was not interested, though, so MLB and the Dodgers worked together and made Zaidi available to Baer for a 30-minute phone call during the postseason. That was enough to assure Baer that Zaidi did have interest, and last Friday, the two finally sat down face to face. 

[PAVLOVIC: Giants' Farhan Zaidi goes for fourth fantasy football title with Dodgers]

The meeting was supposed to last two hours. Zaidi gave his vision for six and a half hours. 

“It was incredibly engaging,” Baer said. “Transformational thinking is the way I would put it.”

Zaidi had a second interview on Sunday. He met again with team officials on Monday, this time with a focus on getting to know Brian Sabean and the people who run the business side of the organization. 

On Monday, Zaidi was offered the job and a five-year deal. By Tuesday evening, he had been announced as the new president of baseball operations. On Wednesday afternoon, he was introduced. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, he flew back to Los Angeles to head down for the final night of the General Managers Meetings. 

When Zaidi left the A’s for the Dodgers, he agonized over the decision for two weeks. He was going to stay in Oakland, but while jogging near his home, he had a panic attack. He realized he had to take a leap of faith. 

This time around, there was much less to think about. Zaidi and his family wanted to come back to the Bay Area. The job is considered one of the best in the sport, and Zaidi will have full control over an organization rather than serving as someone’s assistant or No. 2. He said his first baseball game was at Candlestick Park on August 10, 1987. 

This is a full circle moment for the 41-year-old. He didn’t need a moment of clarity to know that he needed to make a move.

“Yeah it was probably more of a gradual process here, less of a dramatic climax to the decision process,” Zaidi said on The Giants Insider Podcast. “It was just a gradual increase in level of comfort with the Giants organization, with Larry, who I was fortunate enough to spend time with over the last few days. 

"And I just feel like from a life standpoint and taking on the challenge of coming to this organization at a time when it has a chance to really be on the upswing, yeah, it was kind of more that this time all the pieces fit together.”

Giants' Logan Webb believes Seth Corry's prospect ranking is too low


Giants' Logan Webb believes Seth Corry's prospect ranking is too low

Giants pitching prospect Seth Corry isn't getting enough love, and fellow pitcher Logan Webb is not happy about it.

MLB Pipeline released their Top 100 prospects for the 2020 MLB season, and they have Corry ranked as the No. 99 prospect in all of baseball.

By most projections, that ranking appears to be high for Corry, but Webb thinks otherwise.

In case you're wondering who Corry is, he was the Giants' third-round draft pick in 2017. Selected out of Lone Peak High School in Utah, Corry had a breakout season with the Single-A Augusta GreenJackets in 2019.

Corry went 9-3 with a 1.76 ERA and a whopping 172 strikeouts in 122.2 innings for the Giants' full-season Class A affiliate. Those numbers helped Corry earn South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year.

Before returning from a PED suspension at the beginning of the 2019 season, Webb made a pair of rehab starts for Augusta. That's likely where he got a good glimpse of Corry's potential.

While MLB Pipeline slotted Corry into their Top 100, Baseball America did not, so Webb should be happy that at least one publication is giving Corry some love.

[RELATED: Will Webb make opening day rotation?]

Corry is one of five Giants' prospects in MLB Pipeline's top 100, along with catcher Joey Bart, shortstop Marco Luciano and outfielders Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop.

Regardless of Corry's prospect ranking, he is part of a group of prospects that will try to steer the Giants back to the postseason.

If Webb is right, one day Corry will be part of a Giants team full of stars.

Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade


Dodgers getting Astros' titles still wouldn't match Giants' decade

The outrage continues in Tinseltown.

As the fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal continues, many have called into question the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, a thrilling seven-game series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the championship appearing to be tainted by Houston’s systematic tracking of pitching signals, the Los Angeles city council unanimously passed a resolution last week urging Major League Baseball to rescind the victory from the Astros and award it to the runner-up Dodgers. The resolution also included the 2018 World Series, which the Dodgers lost to the Boston Red Sox in five games. Boston remains under investigation for similar allegations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred pushed back on the idea, pointing to the MLB’s history with not altering the past.

“Whatever the impact of the sign stealing was, it could have changed who was in the World Series,” Manfred said earlier this week on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria." “It’s absolutely unclear that the Dodgers would have been the World Series champion. I think there's a long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened. I think the answer from our perspective is to be transparent about what the investigation showed and let our fans make their own decision about what happened.”

Followers of the Giants’ archrival definitely made up their own minds, as they flocked to Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

Pantone 294, one of the Dodgers’ fan groups, also has organized an outing to the Los Angeles Angels’ home opener against the Astros. The group’s website wants LA fans to flock to Anaheim and “support the team that's playing the game we all know and love the right way!”

Even if by Manfred pulled a complete 180 and decided to not only take away championships from both Houston and Boston, but award them to the Dodgers, they’d still have fewer rings than the Giants have won over the past 30 years.

Nothing got the fans in LA more fired up than watching the Giants bring home three World Series titles over a five-year stretch, firmly cementing them as the NL West's team of the decade.

We all know this isn’t emblematic of every Dodgers fan, as many have voiced their opinion that being awarded two championships doesn't mean anything after the fact, especially when everyone watched them get obliterated by the Red Sox in five games and only score one run in Game 7 against the Astros in 2017.

No matter how many signs might have been stolen, only scoring one run in a World Series game isn't going to get you a win in almost every situation.

Some players, including third baseman Justin Turner, made it clear they aren't interested in receiving a ring that doesn't feel earned.

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, however, is cheering on fans choosing to waste their time and money heckling Houston.

“I like it,” Stripling said (h/t Los Angeles Times). “The Dodger fans are fired up. If they want to do their part, and they think that is what it is, then kudos to them. Go do it.

“I know that they’re passionate, and they wanted a championship as much as we did. Obviously, they have still got some fire in their belly to go fight for us.”

[RELATED: Mailbag: Will Beede, Webb be with Giants come Opening Day?]

While the official punishments likely are over for the Astros, it appears they still will be living rent-free in many Dodger fans’ heads all season long.

Meanwhile, Giants fans can sit back and enjoy three, controversy-free World Series trophies residing inside Oracle Park.