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What we learned from Farhan Zaidi’s end-of-season presser

From Evan Longoria’s return to Buster Posey’s involvement, everything the Giants PBO revealed on Friday.

Farhan Zaidi talks to reporters in the dugout Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, San Francisco Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi met with the media for his end-of-season press conference.

We learned a lot of things, but none more than this: something mighty noteworthy must have been going on with the Golden State Warriors, since I’m only now getting around to writing about Zaidi.

My bad, y’all. Draymond’s bad, too.

Anyway, Zaidi met with the media, uttered a few generic platitudes, made a few non-committal remarks, and, as always, was also transparent with some things. Here’s what we learned.

Expect a Kyle Harrison debut in 2023

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Giants are preparing for Kyle Harrison to make the Majors in 2023, but it’s still noteworthy.

It’s not always entirely clear where the Giants are with their prospects. Some move more quickly than their numbers would indicate; others more slowly. So it’s nice to hear it spelled out that the Giants believe Harrison, the top pitching prospect in the organization by a country mile, is nearly ready.

Harrison dominated High-A in 2022, and earned a quick promotion to AA, where his run prevention was less dominant, but his strikeout totals were downright gaudy. He set a modern record for strikeouts per nine innings when all was said and done.

He looks nearly ready. The Minor League coaches around him sound like he’s nearly ready. And apparently the team’s biggest decision-maker also thinks he’s nearly ready.

But ...

Still expect a starter to be signed

The Giants have a solid rotation already in place for next year, with Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, and Anthony DeSclafani all under contract. And that’s without mentioning Jakob Junis and Sean Hjelle, who both did well as spot starters and long relievers this year.

Carlos Rodón will enter free agency after opting out of his contract, and the Giants could presumably leave him unreplaced. Webb/Cobb/Wood/DeSclafani/Junis is a solid rotation, especially if you assume Harrison will enter the fold in May or June.

But, understandably, the Giants are targeting more.

Between Rodón this year and Kevin Gausman last year, the Giants are more than aware of the value of sticking another frontline starter next to Webb. Re-signing Rodón would be huge. Throwing a ton of money at a two or three-year deal for Jacob deGrom would be excellent.

The Giants like having more than five starters, and this year’s injuries reminded them of why. The impending arrival of Harrison might make the Giants feel better if they strike out on the top pitchers on the market, but it won’t keep them from adding talent.

Longo is probably back

The Giants will likely buy out Evan Longoria for $5 million rather than pick up his option for $13 million. But assuming they do the former, expect Longoria to be back in the Bay Area next year.

Longo has made it clear that he wants to stay with the Giants, and Zaidi made it almost equally clear that the feeling is mutual.

Now is where we start dissecting words. Because obviously Zaidi isn’t going to say anything bad about a player, especially one who spent the last five years with the team.

But there’s a difference between a generic nicety and an insight into organizational thinking, and Zaidi’s comment about Longoria is emphatically the latter.

We saw the former last year when Kris Bryant entered free agency. No one could have possibly listened to Zaidi talk about Bryant at season’s end and think, “Oh yeah, that guy is coming back.”

Instead, it was the usual stuff: “we think he’s good,” “he’s a great player in this league,” “he’d make our team better,” etc. etc. ... I made up all of those quotes, but if I said I didn’t, you’d believe me.

“There’s certainly a role for him on our team” is different. It’s not a compliment so much as a statement. Zaidi didn’t say something about Longoria; he said something about the Giants. There’s a role on the team for him.

Longoria seems to have no interest in testing the market to see if he can find a bigger contract. And I see no reason to expect him anywhere else next year.

BB9 is also probably back ... if he’s healthy (and that’s a big “if”)

Zaidi was not quite as clear about the team’s intentions with Brandon Belt, but he did drop a very notable nugget.

“Everything we want in an offensive player.” That’s quite a compliment!

It is just a compliment, not a quote about the team, and we just went over the importance of that distinction. So don’t assume that Belt is back.

But still. When everything you want in an offensive player is available for a low price tag, at a position where you have nobody, and comes with fan sentimentality and marketability, I’d say you should sign that person if you think they’re healthy.

If.

Buster has some hands in all this

A lot of people, myself included, expected Buster Posey’s jaunt into Giants ownership to be mostly ceremonial. A cool opportunity for a franchise legend. A chance for one of our favorite players to stay connected, and for the team to celebrate him at every chance.

But it seems like he’ll actually have an active role.

This brings me so much joy.

Get ready for activity

Zaidi made it clear that the Giants will be quite active this offseason.

It’s unclear what he means by that. They have 13 arbitration-eligible players, and a handful of free agents. They have Rule 5 Draft-eligible prospects to make decisions about. They have the standard churn of Minor League relievers.

But I do expect it to be something more. Zaidi stressed his disappointment in the .500 season, and claimed that they believe they should be in the postseason every year. It was arguably easy to excuse this rough season as a natural part of the rebuild that merely looked worse because of what happened in 2021, but it’s clear the Giants don’t feel that way. They expect better. They believe they should be better.

Which means I don’t think they’ll just run it back and hope for better luck and more favorable variance.

Does that mean that Aaron Judge and Trea Turner will be rocking black and gold next year? Well, maybe not.

But maybe?

Zaidi is a man of his word

If you’re wanting to take all of these quotes with a grain of salt, I won’t stop you.

But Zaidi also said that they hoped to hire a GM to replace Scott Harris “relatively quickly.”

One business day later — or zero business days later if the Giants celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day — the Giants had hired Pete Putila.

He’s a man of his word, y’all.