The Giants are preparing to enter Major League Baseball’s winter meetings without a general manager on staff, but the franchise isn’t short on front office executives who have done the job.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wednesday the Giants are planning to hire former Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi to serve as a special assistant.
“He’s a terrific baseball executive, knows the game as well as anybody and we’re just kind of dotting I’s and crossing T’s,” Zaidi said during an interview on KNBR. “J.P. still should be finalized here shortly and he’ll be with us at the Winter Meetings.”
The Athletic first reported Monday that the Giants were in discussions to hire Ricciardi for a front office role.
The Blue Jays hired Ricciardi away from the A’s in November 2001, three years before Zaidi joined the A’s as a data analyst. Ricciardi held his role for eight seasons in Toronto but was fired in October 2009 as the Blue Jays never advanced to the postseason under his watch.
Ricciardi spent the last eight seasons as a special assistant to former New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and helped run the Mets baseball operations department after Alderson took a leave of absence this July. Ricciardi, 59, left the Mets this offseason after Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the team’s new general manager.
Ricciardi joins Zaidi, the former Los Angeles Dodgers general manager, in the Giants’ front office a week ahead of winter meetings, which are set to begin in Las Vegas on Sunday. Zaidi and Giants CEO Larry Baer acknowledged it would be difficult to hire a general manager this late in the offseason, but the addition of Ricciardi gives Zaidi another advisor with extensive front office experience.
Zaidi said at his introductory press conference Nov. 7 that he would also lean on Giants executive Brian Sabean for assistance in his decision-making processes.
After reaching out to A’s assistant general manager Billy Owens about joining the Giants’ front office earlier this offseason, Zaidi said during his KNBR interview that he anticipates Owens will remain on the other side of the bay.
“Billy Owens, have had some conversations with him, he’s obviously really important to the A’s,” Zaidi said. “I think they have a desire to keep him. As with most baseball executives, he’s very much in-demand. He has a couple of options at his disposal, but I would anticipate him at this point just from what I understand staying put in Oakland. But he’s somebody I regard very highly.”
After a relatively quiet month, the Giants are expected to be active at the winter meetings as Zaidi attempts to stockpile talent for a franchise that’s lost 187 games over the past two seasons. The Giants have several needs to address and six open spots on the team’s 40-man roster.