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Giants hire Farhan Zaidi as president of baseball operations

Zaidi will cross over to the other side of a bitter rivalry and become the first new head of the Giants’ baseball operations department since 1996.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers Press Conference Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have hired Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi as their new president of baseball operations, as the club announced on Tuesday night. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman was the first to report the news, which had been widely speculated about in recent days.

Zaidi, 41, is making an interesting jump here, as he goes from the Dodgers — bitter rivals of the Giants dating back well over 100 years — to San Francisco. The move isn’t exactly unprecedented, however; just 14 years ago, longtime Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti became the Dodgers’ GM, a position that he’d hold for a decade. Zaidi will have total control over San Francisco’s operation — responsibility that he didn’t have in Los Angeles while working under president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman — and will presumably be in line for a hefty raise, explaining the Dodgers’ willingness to let him accept the position while under contract. He’ll receive a five-year contract in San Francisco, per The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly.

Zaidi, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was born in Canada but spent a large chunk of his childhood in the Philippines. He attended MIT undergrad before beginning a lengthy stint in the Bay Area during which he received a PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkley and eventually joined the A’s front office. He worked his way up from an entry-level data analysis position to the assistant GM role in Oakland over 10 years before departing to join the Dodgers following the 2014 season.

With San Francisco’s previous GM, Bobby Evans, having been fired in September, outgoing executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean moving back into an advisory role, and VP of player development David Bell having departed to become the Reds’ new manager, Zaidi will essentially have free reign to reconstruct the front office as he sees fit. Though Sabean was in more of a relaxed “emeritus” type role from 2015-17 as Evans received a promotion to GM — eventually moving back into the chief role last season — Zaidi is the first new name who has been the head of the Giants’ front office, both in title and responsibilities, since Sabean took over for Bob Quinn following the 1996 season.

Zaidi is likely to hire a GM with responsibilities similar to those he had in Los Angeles. USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale speculated that Athletics assistant GM Billy Owens, a former colleague of Zaidi’s in Oakland who has an extensive coaching and scouting background, could be a candidate.

Obviously, this move also leaves the Dodgers looking for a new GM to serve as the No. 2 to Friedman. Former Diamondbacks and Padres GM Josh Byrnes, who currently serves as LA’s VP of baseball operations, would be a logical candidate to fill that role.