CARLSBAD — Farhan Zaidi will have a few hours to celebrate, to soak up the fact that he now runs the baseball operations department for one of the most successful franchises in the sport, with resources that virtually are unmatched.
And then he’ll be faced with the tough questions.
There are two big ones for the Giants, and Zaidi will be asked about Madison Bumgarner’s future and a chase for Bryce Harper when he is introduced Wednesday at 1 p.m. at AT&T Park.
MLB sources who know him well describe Zaidi as someone who does not like massive long-term commitments — the Andrew Friedman/Zaidi partnership did not hand out a new deal larger than Kenley Jansen’s five-year, $80 million contract. But sources also cautioned that certain decisions are made by ownership in San Francisco, and that could be the case with Bumgarner and Harper, even with all the power Zaidi was just given.
Time will tell what the Giants do in either case, but for now, there certainly are some things we know about Zaidi’s preferences as an executive.
With the Dodgers, Zaidi was said to have relentlessly focused on upgrading the back end of the 40-man roster, making the Dodgers the National League’s deepest team from players 30 through 40. That might not sound sexy, but the Dodgers have pulled away with the NL West over and over again by displaying their depth in the second half.
The Giants, on the other hand, have suffered three consecutive, brutal second halves in large part because their roster has been incapable of responding to injuries.
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Zaidi also favors versatility in position players, which showed in the way he and Friedman, his previous boss, built their roster. The Dodgers regularly moved Cody Bellinger from first base to center field, and back again. Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez moved all over the field, and Max Muncy played first and second throughout the postseason. It was not unusual to see a Dodgers lineup with Yasmani Grandal, Manny Machado and Justin Turner as the only players who did not move around during games.
As for the Giants? Well, they don’t do this. At all.
Perhaps Zaidi will be intrigued by Brandon Belt’s past work in left field, or the way Austin Slater and Aramis Garcia moved around, or even Pablo Sandoval’s brief cameo at second base.
Zaidi comes from two organizations — Oakland and Los Angeles — known for having quality minor-league systems, but in one area, he already might be aligned with the way the Giants do things with their own system, which has been poorly rated in recent years. The Giants have become more aggressive about pushing prospects through the minors — Heliot Ramos was a good example last season — and Zaidi is known to be aggressive with challenging minor leaguers.
Zaidi not only will get to hire a new general manager but also a new farm director, and the Giants are hopeful that he can get them back on the right path from a player development standpoint. That part will take years, and for now, Zaidi is immediately faced with his first foray into free agency as head of a baseball operations department.
He is not, Jansen aside, someone who likes handing out big deals to relievers. The Dodgers built their bullpens through journeymen and unknown prospects, but this is one area where they often fell short.
Zaidi and Friedman took a lot of heat in the past two postseasons for their bullpen construction, but that surely didn't bother Giants CEO Larry Baer too much during the interview process. His organization's way recently hasn't worked in the bullpen, either.
The Giants are ready to try new ideas -- go "next-gen," as Baer has put it -- and they're confident Zaidi is the man to lead that charge. His recent history says he has as good a shot as anyone to succeed.