SAN FRANCISCO — Bobby Evans, not far removed from “We did not get a rose,” kept his sense of humor on one of the biggest days of his career.
“I’m not sure why they chose to do this in an odd year,” Evans said during a press conference to announce a restructuring of the front office. “But I trust that it was well thought out.”
Friday’s moves have actually been in the works for months. Brian Sabean, bumped up to Vice President of Baseball Operations, said he was ready to hand the general manager title over after the 2014 season ended with a parade. Sabean hoped to have negotiations finished by the start of spring training games, but it took until Thursday to check all the boxes.
The final result: A new three-year deal for manager Bruce Bochy; a three-year extension for Sabean and a new title; a step up for Evans, the longtime assistant general manager; a promotion for Jeremy Shelley, who adds assistant general manager to his business card.
“What I’m excited about is Bobby is more than ready,” Sabean said. “We continued putting more and more on his plate and he came through with flying colors.”
Sabean said he was disappointed that Evans did not receive as much recognition from the outside world over the years, and added, “I’m proud that I could pass the torch. There’s a lot of talent on our team and I think it’s time we do it differently.”
So, what changes?
Well, Evans has been running most of the day-to-day operations in recent years, and he will continue to do so, while also getting the Giants more prepared for the likelihood of an international draft. Sabean said he will still have veto power, along with President and CEO Larry Baer, and the two will also still have endorsement power. Given the dollars at stake with any decision made in Major League Baseball these days, ownership will be involved.
The big change is that Sabean is free to return to his roots a bit while also better positioning the Giants in the international market. Sabean said he would have more flexibility to go see prospective free agents, midseason trade targets or draft picks in person. That’s something he couldn’t always do while GM. Most importantly, Sabean will be able to take off at the drop of the hat if a Latin American prospect lands on the radar for a workout.
The Giants don’t feel they’ve been underprepared when bidding for Latin American — primarily Cuban — free agents, and they have finished second in the bidding several times. Sabean saw Jose Abreu in person twice and the Giants liked him quite a bit, but there were times, Sabean admitted, when he couldn’t be there in person. That’s the reality when you’re running a budding dynasty.
“During the five-year window (from 2010), yeah, I’d feel guilty to be all the way in the Dominican chasing something,” he said. “We need to be available. I need to be out there.”
Other organizations — notably the Dodgers, White Sox and Cubs — have structured their front offices this way, freeing up the likes of Andrew Friedman (of the Dodgers) or Theo Epstein (of the Cubs) to see more players in person.
“What this really does is assure us going to the future with more quality control,” Sabean said.
The Giants have always relied on collaboration in the front office, and that won’t change. Most of the decision-making ladder remains the same, with the hope that finds are funneled to Bochy into the latter part of the decade. Bochy had been signed through 2016, and now he’ll be around until at least 2019.
“I’m very, very honored and excited about being here for five more years counting this year,” Bochy said. “I couldn’t have a better situation.”
Bochy does expect to have more contact with Evans, who will be the point man on all trades and free agent discussions. It won’t be an unfamiliar role for Evans.
“He was purposely given more and more (responsibilities),” Sabean said. “He deserved to be able to juggle that.”