The Extra 2% meets Moneyball meets a whole lot of money. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office overhaul continued Tuesday night, as Ken Gurnick of the team’s official website reported that Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi will be named the team’s next general manager:

Zaidi, 37, has spent the past decade working under Billy Beane in Oakland, using Wall Street business sensibilities to carve a role as the director of baseball operations. Beane promoted the fast-rising Zaidi to assistant general manager before the 2014 season, but it was apparent he’d eventually take a more encompassing role.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the Dodgers contacting Zaidi on Monday. While taking over the general manager role, Zaidi will still serve a second-in-command role behind newly hired president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Friedman, 37, left the Tampa Bay Rays last month after a nine-year run as the team’s general manager.

Friedman is widely credited with helping Tampa Bay develop the analytically inclined mindset that turned the franchise from laughingstock to perennial contender. His metric-heavy thinking will prove an easy fit with Zaidi, who owns an MIT diploma. The Athletics are also seen as being at the forefront of the analytical movement, with Beane’s rise in the small market helping pave the way for the likes of Friedman.

“I will focus on process and I’ll be as open and disciplined in our thinking as possible,” Friedman told reporters when talking about building his front-office staff. “I look forward to working with the many talented people who are already here in baseball operations and adding dynamic people from the outside as well. Together we will use whatever tools—from traditional scouting to advanced analytics as well as innovative ideas.”

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times indicated Josh Byrnes will join Zaidi on Friedman’s staff as a senior executive:

Byrnes previously served as the general manager of the Diamondbacks (2005-10) and Padres (2011-2014). San Diego fired Byrnes in June amid a third straight disappointing season. 

Expectations for this murderer’s row of executives could not be higher. The Dodgers have won the NL West each of the past two seasons, with ownership giving a green light for the front office to spend its way into contention. But part of the impetus for hiring Friedman was the goal of lowering payroll and building a sustainable ecosystem around young talent.

“I expect us to become a home-grown organization,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told Gurnick. “We will get young and will wind up with a lower payroll. But it’s never payroll just driving decisions. Phase 1 was to get the best team on the field. Phase 2 is to transition to home grown. With the kind of energy and success Andrew has had, he’ll really do well here.”

In Tampa Bay and Oakland, respectively, Friedman and Zaidi were part of organizations where playoff berths were pleasant surprises. In Los Angeles, they’ll be tasked with the explicit goal of implementing their styles to win championships. 

It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.


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