Farhan Zaidi

Zaidi shoulders responsibility for Giants' struggle to sign superstar

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Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

That has been the story of Farhan Zaidi's free-agency pursuits since he became Giants president of baseball operations in November 2018. From Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge to Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Zaidi knows the feeling of second-best all too well -- and knows San Francisco fans do, too.

The front-office executive recently told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami he not only understands the fanbase's frustration but accepts blame for the Giants' inability to sign a superstar, refuting the notion that the city of San Francisco's reputation deters top free agents.

"I appreciate that as we've kind of gone after this tier of players, we've had pretty consistent ownership support," Zaidi said on "The TK Show" podcast. "When you're talking about the rarefied air of guys like Judge and Ohtani and Bryce Harper, I mean, these are top five, top 10 players in all of baseball and they have a lot of options.

"I personally and professional, I would say, to the extent that I've been a part of this, I take responsibility for it. None of it should be interpreted or viewed as an indictment of the Bay Area. ... Our fans, our organization, everybody knows it's a great place to live. That doesn't mean every free agent we pursue is going to choose us."

Former Giants catcher Buster Posey, who now is part of the team's ownership group, told The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly last month that the perceived perception of the city of San Francisco -- fair or not -- possibly played a role in Ohtani's decision to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers rather than play in the Bay.

While Posey made it clear he loves the region (he moved back to California from Georgia this year), the comments sparked plenty of discourse. Giants players past and present came to the city's defense, as did others like MLB agent Scott Boras.

Zaidi told Kawakami he hasn't heard any of the Giants' targeted free agents cite the city of San Francisco as the reason they don't want to don the Orange and Black. He noted the organization's success recruiting local players to return home, most recently Mitch Haniger of Mountain View.

"You could have geography issues that have nothing to do with and should not be viewed as a referendum on the Bay Area," Zaidi said, listing family obligations or area ties as potential reasons a player might not want to relocate to a certain region. "These are just hurdles that, occasionally, you run up against. ...

"So, I have not heard it from players. What I have heard is, 'Hey, I really want to be on the East Coast. I really want to be in the Midwest. I have family here,' and that becomes a difficult obstacle. Frankly, I think agents bring it up, and now that this narrative is out there, they use it for leverage ... I always push back and say we have no problem getting players in here."

Zaidi believes the Giants' newest addition, Jung Hoo Lee, is a player fans can connect with. The South Korean outfielder signed a $113 million, six-year contract with San Francisco in mid-December, and the organization still has a transactional to-do list as the offseason progresses.

And no matter how the Giants' roster looks come spring training, Zaidi knows all eyes will be on the front office.

"As people have pointed out, and I think it's fair, it's our challenge and responsibility," Zaidi told Kawakami.

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