The Giants do not currently have a general manager. Brian Sabean was quoted in the team’s press release announcing the reassignment as saying, “I’ll be working closely with Larry [Baer, Giants President and CEO] as the organization finds its next leader of baseball operations.” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic followed up the press release with this tweet:
Larry Baer said Giants are looking externally for a new head of baseball operations. So Brian Sabean is no longer in charge. New hire will report directly to ownership.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 25, 2018
If you read the comments beneath this tweet — actually, for your mental health, I strongly urge you to not read the comments — you’ll see this statement created a degree of confusion. “DOES THIS MEAN BRIAN SABEAN HAS BEEN ‘REASSIGNED’ TO?” is basically the gist of them.
All that’s happening is that Brian Sabean is set to resume the role he had taken before the 2015 season. You remember that, right? It’s how Bobby Evans came to be the GM.
Baer also announced that Sabean has been promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the Giants’ baseball department, including the immediate and long-term development of the major and minor league systems and the team’s growing scouting and international operations.
Sabean stopped being responsible for the daily operation of the front office and got to focus on just the players and player development. Bobby Evans got to embrace contracts, administrative responsibilities, and operating the machinery of the front office itself.
After the failure of last season, Larry Baer asked Sabean to come back to the front office and take a more hands-on role:
Sabean is back in a hands-on role.
“I will be more involved with Boch and the major league staff and the major league team, and whatever else I can get to — the draft, travel in the minor leagues — will follow suit,” Sabean said in an interview with The Athletic.
Larry Baer described it this way:
“Brian had stepped back a little bit and done more international work and went a little more back to his scouting roots. Now, he is re-immersed in the day-to-day operations.”
And now all that’s happening is that Brian Sabean is going to stick around until a replacement GM is found. Then he’ll go back to that
So, once the new GM is hired, he’ll go back to wandering the earth or whatever it was that he was doing in the previous role. Sabean has done his bit for king and country. After three titles, it makes sense that he’d just want to do whatever he felt like in the baseball world.
But he’ll be picking the next guy because that’s just how most interview processes work. Sometimes the current employee helps hire their successor, sometimes a pair of senior staff interview a would-be subordinate. In this case, all Sabean is doing is helping Baer find the guy who will report directly to Baer and, hopefully, someone who feels like they might be able to retain some of the culture Baer wants the organization to have — Brian Sabean might think advanced metrics are sorcery, but his experience and insight are invaluable in tracking who might be a good “culture” fit.
So, that’s all that’s happening. Brian Sabean’s going to help hire the next GM. His contract expires after next season. But so does Bruce Bochy’s. Sabean could very well be selecting his successor and maybe the successor will be able to Machiavelli his or her way into ousting Larry Baer at some point, but for now, this is just a senior adviser working with the CEO to find the next general manager.