Farhan Zaidi

Giants owner Johnson defends Zaidi's ‘difficult' decision-making

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Farhan Zaidi has made plenty of moves that have received scrutiny from the Giants' fan base.

But San Francisco's president of baseball operations has the backing from the very top of the organization.

In talking to The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami in Wednesday’s edition of the “TK Show,” Giants owner Greg Johnson defended Zaidi’s decision-making, acknowledging his tweaks to the roster despite having underwhelming minor-league assets.

“I mean, again, it really goes back to the farm system and what he inherited -- just didn't have a lot coming up,” Johnson told Kawakami. “And we had to make a lot of smaller moves [and] continue to move people around -- and that's not great for fan engagement. 

“But if you look at the kind of players -- the LaMonte Wades, the Thairo Estradas, the guys that -- [Farhan] went out and even was criticized for drafting Patrick Bailey at the time -- people forget that, said, ‘Why are we drafting a catcher? You know, we already have a number one pick.’ I think he is going to make decisions that may not be popular at times, but ones that are right for the organization.”

As the key decision-maker for an organization as prominent as the Giants, Zaidi always will be criticized. While he impressed fans with the offseason acquisition of Blake Snell, Matt Chapman, Jung Hoo-Lee and Jorge Soler, Zaidi faced backlash for missing out on now-Los Angeles Dodgers stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in MLB free agency -- that’s just the business.

But as Johnson emphasized, Zaidi has made do with what he inherited. Selecting Bailey in 2020 while already having a catcher in Joey Bart -- the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft -- for example, was a surprising move at the time, but is more sensible today. 

“Going out and getting Patrick Bailey was an example of him finding the best talent that he saw out there and bringing that into the organization, and I think we've been well served,” Johnson concluded. “I would say, again, looking at the minor league depth we have and how these players are moving up and looking at the depth of pitching we have, I think we're among the best right now in baseball. So I think a lot of that should be attributed to Farhan. 

“And the fact that we've stayed competitive with a team that didn't have that lift from the farm system is a testament to Farhan as well. It was a difficult position to be in where you had to move players in and out, where you had the platoon pitchers -- it's easy to criticize that. But we did stay competitive in a pretty difficult place as far as having players moving up.”

It has been a turbulent journey for Zaidi and the Giants over their six-year partnership. San Francisco hasn’t won an MLB playoff series during his reign, only reaching the postseason once, in 2021 when they lost to the Dodgers in the NLDS.

However, Johnson and the rest of the Giants’ brass are confident in Zaidi’s ability to help San Francisco compete for World Series, as the 47-year-old executive’s contract was extended through 2026 in October. 

As the 2024 MLB season enters June, Zaidi’s Giants are on a roll. Winners of seven of its last 10 games, San Francisco (29-28) currently is the NL's second wild-card team. 

It’s uncertain if the Giants will reach their lofty goals over the next few years, but it's clear Zaidi his owner’s utmost support.

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