SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris had met just once before Zaidi started his search for a general manager. Their initial meeting last month lasted five hours, and it’s easy to see how they hit it off.
When he was hired last November, Zaidi talked a lot about making the organization incrementally better with every transaction, even if the move was a small one. When he was introduced as the new GM earlier this month, Harris said something similar after he was asked what he learned from working for the Chicago Cubs.
"One of the reasons why these jobs are so inspiring is there are endless opportunities to compete, whether it's blockbuster trades or even those smaller back-page minor league trades,” Harris said at the time. “Major league free agency but also minor league free agency, first-round picks in the draft, but also 17th-round picks and 23rd-round picks. They just taught me to stay open-minded no matter what, to find talent at all corners of this league and just compete as hard as you can to go acquire that talent.”
Zaidi’s methods were on display in his first year, as the Giants constantly churned the back end of their 40-man roster and used an NL-record 64 players. A lot of the minor moves ended up making a major impact.
Mike Yastrzemski was picked up in a deal nobody thought much of at the end of the spring and ended up being one of the National League’s best rookies. Alex Dickerson turned the Giants’ season around briefly after he was acquired for a minor league pitcher. Trevor Gott was a big part of the bullpen’s success early on; he was acquired from the Nationals for cash considerations. A lot of the other moves the Giants made were designed to get better players onto their Triple-A roster.
Harris and the Cubs had much more high-end talent than the Giants, but they still turned over their roster quite a bit. The Cubs used 52 players last season, one more than the previous Giants franchise record.
With Zaidi and Harris now running things together, you can expect much more of the same as they try to get the Giants back into contention.