Behind the scenes of the San Francisco Giants’ search for a new visionary

SAN FRANCISCO–When the Giants opened their search for a “next-gen” front office visionary at the end of September, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi quietly expressed concern about his chances of landing the position.

“I thought I might be too old to be considered “next-gen,” Zaidi revealed with a laugh.

In the moments following his introduction as the Giants’ president of baseball operations Wednesday, Zaidi –who will turn 42 on Sunday– circled a room full of reporters while cracking jokes and expanding on his eagerness to find a home back in the Bay Area.

After spending a decade in the Oakland A’s front office and four seasons as the Los Angeles Dodgers general manager, Zaidi developed a passion for San Francisco that continued to draw him back.

“I love this city, I love this area,” Zaidi said. “Whenever the Dodgers came up here to play a series, I’d try to make the trip because of my affinity for the area. Staying at a hotel at Union Square, I always made a point to never take the team bus. I always walked from Union Square to the park just to be able to take in the city.”

Five weeks after dismissing Bobby Evans as general manager, the Giants’ search for a president of baseball operations led them to an executive with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UC Berkeley. Zaidi didn’t play the sport beyond high school and he’s never spent a day in a uniform as a coach.

In other words, Zaidi is a Giants outsider who suddenly finds himself atop the hierarchy on the inside.

When the search for a top executive began, Giants CEO Larry Baer admitted he didn’t know Zaidi personally. Through conversations with personnel at Major League Baseball’s league office, discussions with former general managers and tips from established leaders around the sport, Baer created a list of three-to-four highly desired candidates he hoped to interview for the president of baseball operations position.

Zaidi’s name made the cut. But the Giants were uncertain he would be available or interested.

“The thing is, I had never met the guy,” Baer said.

At the outset of the process, the Giants informed other teams they planned to replace Evans with a president of baseball operations, not a general manager. The distinction in titles became important, particularly because the league encourages franchises to allow executives to interview for positions with other clubs that are technically considered promotions.

Farhan Zaidi signed a five-year contract to serve as the Giants’ president of baseball operations. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Though Milwaukee’s David Stearns and Oakland’s David Forst are both general managers, the Giants did not receive permission to speak with either executive for their top job. A list of three-to-four top candidates likely shrunk to one or two.

“It gets murky because there’s title manipulation, not in the case of the Dodgers or us, but out there to prevent people from talking you get a new title,” Baer said. “But it was clear (Zaidi) was going to be the No. 1 and that’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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