SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Farhan Zaidi has a long-term deal and complete control over baseball operations, so when Bryce Harper chose the Phillies last week, Zaidi did not wake up the next day panicked about the need to react.
"Plan B really takes place over 12 years, not just a couple of days," Zaidi said, smiling.
That's a wide range, so Zaidi, speaking to reporters for the first time since Harper's decision, ultimately settled on this: He actually feels good about his roster, particularly the pitching staff, but he feels the need to add to the outfield, and he still is focused on doing that before Opening Day.
There are complications, of course. First among them: Zaidi's first choice is in Phillies camp. The Giants offered Harper 12 years and $310 million before he signed a record deal with the Phillies.
"Obviously we had sincere interest there," Zaidi said. "We didn't have a bunch of things that were going to happen immediately depending on whether that worked out or not. I think that's an area where we're going to continue to work through Opening Day to try to make sure we have a good and competitive group."
That brings us to our second issue. The Giants took the field Thursday with just three weeks until their opener. It is getting late, and if the free agents on the market continue to wait for the right deal or opportunity, they may not have enough time to get ready for the season. Zaidi said he's still looking at "a handful" of outfield options, but he admitted he's concerned about how late it is in the process for free agents.
"When you look at the recent history of guys that signed late, it's not great," he said. "I think certainly as time goes on it makes it more and more difficult to give Major League or guaranteed contracts. You can still bring guys in on a non-roster basis and be able to get guys at-bats on the minor league side and be able to evaluate them that way, but it becomes harder and harder to know exactly what you're going to get coming out of the gate and over the course of the season."
There are two big names still on the market, and the Giants have at some point been at least lightly connected to both Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Jones. But Zaidi prefers to add a right-handed bat to a lefty-heavy lineup, making Gonzalez a poor fit. Jones remains a possibility, but Zaidi said most of the focus currently is on trade discussions.
Those have slowed over the last couple of weeks, with front offices in evaluation mode. But the Giants still are hopeful that an outfielder will shake loose before March 28 as teams evaluate players who are out of options or may be a better fit elsewhere.