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SF Giants: Five potential candidates to replace Scott Harris as general manager

The SF Giants need a new general manager after Scott Harris joined the Tigers' front office. Who are some potential candidates to replace Harris?

The SF Giants will need to find a new general manager after the Tigers hired Scott Harris as their next president of baseball operations. Harris had spent the past three seasons working under Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. His tenure was obviously highlighted by the team's 107-win team in 2021.

Now, Zaidi must start his second general manager search in his tenure with the Giants. Given the fact that his first hire became another organization's top decisionmaker in less than three years, plenty of well-regarded executives around the league should be interested in the opportunity.

Plenty of names will emerge in the coming weeks, but here are five of the biggest names in and outside the organization that are prime candidates to be the team's next general manager:

SF Giants potential GM candidates: 1. Billy Owens

A longtime top executive with the Oakland Athletics, Billy Owens is the early favorite to replace Harris as San Francisco's general manager. He was also a finalist for the Mets' general manager job last year. Owens and Zaidi know each other well from their time working together with the A's. In fact, Owens interviewed with the Giants when Zaidi hired Harris back in 2019.

A San Jose, California native, Owens played in the minor leagues from 1992-1998 before starting his career as a scout. He has handled several prominent roles with the A's over the past two decades. Owens worked as an area scout, minor-league hitting coach, crosschecker, and now works as the team's assistant general manager and director of player personnel.

Owens would bring an experienced scouting perspective to the Giants front office. While San Francisco has shied away from drafting high school hitters in the first two rounds of the MLB draft under Zaidi, the A's drafted prep prospects Tyler Soderstrom and Maxwell Muncy in the first round of the 2020 and 2021 draft. Both Soderstrom and Muncy were selected after the Giants' first-round picks (Patrick Bailey and Will Bednar) but have had far better starts to their professional careers.

Owens has been in line for an opportunity to be a general manager for some time. His familiarity with several top decision makers already in the Giants organization makes the potential fit even more seamless. As Zaidi looks for his new second-in-command, it's hard to imagine a list of finalists omitting Owens.

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher (34) Randy Flores in the 2006 season. He's now in the Cardinals' front office.

SF Giants potential GM candidates: 2. Randy Flores

The lone former MLB player on this list, Randy Flores was a reliever in the big leagues from 2002-2010, primarily with the St. Louis Cardinals, before moving behind the scenes. Flores worked as an analyst for ESPN's coverage of NCAA baseball before working at his alma mater (USC) as an assistant coach.

Flores launched OnDeckDigital, a startup company that tried to help teams improve their video scouting just as teams were more open to incorporating video scouting. His experience as an analyst and with OnDeckDigital impressed the Cardinals front office enough to hire him as their Director of Scouting in 2015. Flores has overseen the team's entire scouting department, with a particular focus on the draft. Over that time, the team has drafted big leaguers Dylan Carlson, Dakota Hudson, Zac Gallen, Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman, and Lars Nootbaar alongside some of the best prospects currently in the minors like Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn.

After the 2018 season, the Cardinals promoted Flores to assistant general manager, where he has taken a more prominent role in the team's big-league roster. While Flores does not deserve all the credit, St. Louis had missed the playoffs three consecutive years before Flores' promotion. They have reached the postseason in each season since.

It's obviously difficult to tell how much Flores has contributed to other moves the Cards have made over the past few years. However, that front office has acquired stars like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, something the Giants have yet to do under Zaidi. Flores' experience in scouting combined with his time in one of the most successful organizations in the league, has made him one of the biggest names to watch in general manager searches around the MLB.

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SF Giants potential GM candidates: 3. Jeremy Shelley

Now that Zaidi has been with the Giants for roughly four years, it might be more likely that the team will promote Harris' replacement from within the organization. If they go that route, their current vice president and assistant general Jeremy Shelley would be the obvious next in line.

One of the few remaining carryovers from the Giants previous regime to remain in a prominent position with Zaidi, Shelley has been with the Giants for 29 seasons. After starting with the organization as a baseball operations intern in 1994, Shelley has risen through the ranks in baseball operations, primarily overseeing the Giants pro scouting.

Given his experience with both the Brian Sabean/Bobby Evans regime and the Zaidi/Harris duo, Shelley clearly has a well-rounded skillset that the team values. If Zaidi wants to keep things simple, Shelley could soon take another step up the franchise's chain of command.

Amiel Sawdaye, (right) Senior VP & Assistant GM talks to Michael Bell, Director of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first day of spring training

SF Giants potential GM candidates: 4. Amiel Sawdaye

It might make sense for the Giants to try and steal some talent away from a rival within their division. While the Dodgers and Padres front offices could obviously have some names to watch, the Diamondbacks might actually be the current employer of San Francisco's next general manager.

Dbacks senior vice president and assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye is considered one of the top prospects to become a general manager at some point soon. Sawdaye started his career with the Boston Red Sox in 2001, where he worked in the scouting department under Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, and Mike Hazen.

After prolific work identifying prospects for the Red Sox, Sawdaye was charged with overseeing Arizona's international and amateur scouting operations. To Sawdaye's credit, the Diamondbacks have built one of the best farm systems in MLB since he took over, and that talent has begun to reach the big-league level, helping spark their impressive second-half run this season.

As has become a common occurrence among big-league front offices, it's hard to know Sawdaye's involvement in some of Arizona's most prominent moves. With that said, when current Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen took a leave of absence in 2021, Sawdaye filled in as the interim, suggesting he is heavily involved in the team's big-league decision-making as well.

SF Giants potential GM candidates: 5. J.P. Ricciardi

While Shelley is the most obvious internal candidate, I would not rule out senior advisor to the president of baseball operations J.P. Ricciardi, the lone senior advisor who was not in the organization prior to Zaidi's arrival. While Zaidi hired a young up-and-coming executive in his first go around, he could be eyeing a more experienced executive in case he is worried about hiring someone who will be afraid to challenge him and offer alternative opinions.

Ricciardi started his career with the A's, where he worked for 16 years under Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane. Then, he worked as the Toronto Blue Jays general manager from 2001-2009. The Blue Jays were solid throughout his tenure (642-653) but were never able to get over the hump and reach the postseason in the competitive American League West. His overall tenure left a lot to be desired, but that does not mean he does not have a valuable perspective to offer the Giants front office. After all, Zaidi values Ricciardi's opinion enough to have him working as a senior advisor.

Ricciardi is much older than the other potential candidates on this list. Ricciardi will be 63 next week and might not be interested in returning to a prominent public-facing role. He may prefer remaining in an advisory role that has fewer responsibilities and pressure than becoming a general manager. However, if he hopes to return to the top of a baseball operations department, there could be an obvious fit.

Ricciardi's tenure with the Blue Jays included several prominent acquisitions via trade and the free-agent market. If Zaidi wants to work alongside a more experienced mind, Ricciardi is someone he is clearly comfortable with who had a solid, albeit underwhelming, tenure as a general manager.