Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi inked a five-year deal over the 2018-19 offseason when he was hired away from the Dodgers to lead the front office. He’s now headed into the final guaranteed year of that contract, but his job security doesn’t appear to be at issue.
Team chairman Greg Johnson told Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic this week that Zaidi’s contract contains a previously unreported club option for the 2024 season. Johnson was unequivocal about the organization’s intent to keep the baseball ops president around beyond this season. “I can tell you that (Zaidi) is 100 percent here through the end of next season. We do have an option,” Johnson said. He added the team is interested in working out a longer-term extension with Zaidi “in the near future,” though he didn’t specify whether the sides have yet opened that dialogue.
San Francisco has only had one playoff appearance in the four seasons since Zaidi was hired. He joined the organization on the heels of a 73-win season, though, leaving an uphill path to immediate contention. After a pair of slightly below-average showings in 2019-20, the ’21 club broke out with one of the best seasons in franchise history. They won 107 games, snapping the Dodgers’ streak of eight consecutive division titles, before dropping a closely contested Division Series against their archrivals.
While the arrow seemed pointed straight up 12 months ago, the Giants disappointed with a .500 showing in 2022. A few games out of the playoff mix at last summer’s deadline, the club moved some role players but held onto key impending free agents like Carlos Rodón and Joc Pederson. Rodón, who’d signed a two-year deal with an opt-out in one of last offseason’s best additions, departed after rejecting a qualifying offer. Pederson accepted a QO and returns for 2023.
San Francisco entered this winter with an abundance of payroll space and an obvious desire to land a top-tier talent. Despite a spirited pursuit of Aaron Judge and their near-deal with Carlos Correa, they ultimately missed out on a top-of-the-market pickup. Instead, the Giants wound up spreading their resources around. Mitch Haniger (three years, $43.5MM with an opt-out after 2024), Michael Conforto (two years, $36MM with a conditional opt-out after 2023), Taylor Rogers (three years, $33MM), Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling (both two years, $25MM with opt-out chances) all joined the organization.
San Francisco has had success in the middle tiers of free agency, particularly with signings of Kevin Gausman and Rodón. The bullpen and position player group have been less consistent over the past couple seasons. A lineup heavily reliant on platoon matchups fired on all cylinders in 2021 but was a middle-of-the-road group last year. The Giants also had one of the worst team defenses in the league in 2022.
Whether San Francisco did enough to compete with the Dodgers and Padres at the top of the division remains to be seen. They’re generally viewed as a step or two below those other clubs, with both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs projecting them around average this year.
Regardless of how competitive the club is in 2023, they should be well-positioned to again make a run at elite free agents next winter. It certainly seems it’ll be a Zaidi-led front office making those decisions again, although that won’t be official until an extension is reached or the team formally exercises the option. As Baggarly points out, manager Gabe Kapler is signed through 2024, so San Francisco can keep their leadership structure in place for at least two more seasons if ownership remains happy with the organizational direction.