On Monday afternoon, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Detroit Tigers are set to hire Scott Harris as their new president of baseball operations. Harris, a veteran of Theo Epstein’s World Series winning braintrust with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, has been the San Francisco Giants general manager under president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi over the past three season.
Don’t get too lost in the titles. Harris will hold the same clout over all baseball decisions that previous GM Al Avila did. He may even get the general manager and president of baseball operations tags together by the time the Tigers are ready to announce the hire. The organizational structures of various front offices around the game have gotten vastly more complex over the past decade as different departments and specialties have been added. In San Francisco, the general manager’s role was underneath Zaidi’s oversight as president of baseball operations. So, if Chris Ilitch decides to have two distinct positions and make someone the general manager, that person will be under Harris, or they may just combine the titles.
Writing about who should be the next Tigers’ GM was really difficult, and at no point could anyone hope to have a comprehensive list of the possible top candidates. Harris didn’t seem likely to leave San Francisco, reportedly turning down the New York Mets last year, which is part of the reason he didn’t make any of the notable lists of candidates produced by national baseball writers.
However, initial reactions have been very positive, if not downright surprised that the Tigers landed Harris, and that the Giants didn’t beat their offer to retain him. It’s difficult to assess from the outside, but Harris is quite young and has advanced rapidly to the top of the sport working for two very good organizations.
The Detroit Tigers are hiring San Francisco Giants general manager Scott Harris as their new president of baseball operations, sources tell ESPN. Harris’ rise in the industry has been meteoric and he’s been seen as a future front-office star. Now he’ll run the show in Detroit.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 19, 2022
Harris joined the Giants in 2019, after working in the Cubs baseball operations department for seven seasons. His initial work in baseball was actually for MLB itself as Coordinator of Major League Operations providing support and analysis to teams involved in trades and running research projects for the league.
With the Cubs, Harris was involved in every sort of player evaluation and acquisition. He advanced to Assistant General Manager in his time in the organization, and also headed up research and development departments along the way, before taking the next step up the pecking order with the Giants.
The Tigers great need is in player evaluation and acquisition at all levels. They have their player development chief in place. What they need to do is improve at finding talent in trades, free agency, the amateur drafts, the works. Harris seems like a rising star with those specific specialties and experience with some of the better minds in the game in both the Cubs and the Giants front offices.
There don’t appear to be any particular ties to manager AJ Hinch, which is a plus. His experience and fast-rising star seem to auger well for this decision. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see how things unfold.
A California native, the 35-year-old Harris holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, has a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from UCLA, and studied at the London School of Economics as well.
Sahadev Sharma wrote a pretty good profile of Harris for The Athletic back in 2018 if you’d like to hear more. In the meantime we’ll have to wait for the Tigers’ announcement and introductory press conference.