Farhan Zaidi is expected to hire a new general manager and director of player development, and we have our first rumor of who he will consider. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oakland’s assistant general manager, Billy Owens, is confirmed to be in consideration.
One of Zaidi’s first orders of business is hiring a GM… and confirmed former A’s colleague Billy Owens would be considered, making him the first known candidate.
Owens, a graduate of San Jose’s Bellarmine College Prep, has been in the A’s organization for 20 years and is an assistant GM and director of player personnel.
Owens is an obvious choice. He has experience working in both roles for which the Giants have vacancies, though it appears to be in consideration for GM and not director of player development. He’s also worked with Zaidi before. Owens has been with the A’s since 1999, and he’s been the director of player personnel in Oakland since 2004. In that time, the A’s drafted and developed players like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sonny Gray, and Sean Doolittle. Prior to becoming the director of player personnel, Owens was an area scout and a hitting coach across multiple levels of the A’s minor league system. He added assistant GM to his job title in 2016.
Zaidi and Owens worked together in Oakland for a decade, and Zaidi has nothing but good things to say about him. In Wednesday’s press conference, Zaidi lauded the A’s Khris Davis trade, a decision Owens undoubtedly had his hands in.
The Giants have been lagging in player development as they have yet to replenish their farm system following their many, many World Championships. That’s a good problem to have, but one that Owens’ experience would allow him to solve. The A’s aversion to spending means that Owens has worked in a culture that values prospect capital above all else. I’d think it a safe assumption that he wouldn’t deplete the farm and that he would be more inclined toward smaller moves that incrementally make the organization better rather than the “big splash.”
Hiring Owens would be reminiscent of the Dodgers’ strategy when they acquired Zaidi and Andrew Friedman in the first place. The Dodgers hired front office personnel who had experience working with a limited budget and gave them a blank check. I’d say it worked out pretty well for the Dodgers.
Even with Owens qualifications and his familiarity with Zaidi, Owens isn’t a lock for the position. There’s no telling how extensive Zaidi’s list is. Owens could be on a very short list or he could be one of many, and I’d say the latter is more likely. Zaidi said they’re willing to wait for the “right guy,” so he and Larry Baer will weigh all their options before deciding.
Also, Owens might not want to leave an organization he’s been with two decades even if it would mean a promotion and he wouldn’t have to move. He might just want a chance to win his office fantasy football league.
I’m putting this rumor at AT THE END OF THE DAY... / EH ALERT
An interview hasn’t been scheduled, but Zaidi said they would talk soon.
Owens seems like a great fit. He embodies the balance of analytics and scouting Larry Baer has been looking for, and we know his potential new boss likes him. Not to mention the Giants poaching him would cheese A’s fans off.