As we await further word on the probably-happening-sometime-soon, but-just-be-patient Theo Epstein/Chicago Cubs contract extension, there might be other news from the front office to keep an eye on.
As in, keeping an eye on the potential for key personnel (other than Epstein) leaving in the offseason. When you’ve got as much talent as the Cubs do in the front office, it’s always going to be an offseason storyline.
As you well know, the Minnesota Twins fired their General Manager, Terry Ryan, back in the middle of July, replacing him in the interim with assistant GM Rob Antony.
At the time, we openly speculated (as we would with any newly-available high-profile executive job) that members of the Chicago Cubs front office might become targets for the vacancy. Well, we are no longer the only ones speculating. At the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo tosses Jason McLeod’s name into the ring as a potential replacement for Ryan in the offseason.
While we generally assume that GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein are likely to stick around Chicago for a good long while (the latter by his own admission, the former because it would presumably require a promotion into an Epstein-esq, President-type role (which are rare, but becoming increasingly prevalent)), Senior VP of Player Development and Amateur Scouting Jason McLeod, Assistant GM Shiraz Rehman, and a few others are a different story. In fact, we’ve almost resigned ourselves to the fact that some of these guys will leave for bigger opportunities (career-wise) eventually.
But has that time already come? After all, it was fairly recently that McLeod decided to pass on an opportunity for a top front office job in San Diego, where he was before coming to the Cubs.
According to Cafardo, McLeod’s name is very likely to come up as the Twins continue reshaping their front office. His outstanding draft record with the Cubs and the integral role he’s played in their recent success (in general) underscores his overall value and worth.
Of course, there have been no actual rumors connecting McLeod to the Twins just yet – other than Cafardo’s speculation – but it’s difficult to disagree with his conclusion. First, McLeod is an extraordinarily attractive target without much room for growth within the Cubs organization*. Second, these sorts of opportunities come around very rarely. And third, the Cubs would never stop him from pursuing a promotion.
But would McLeod even leave?
Cafardo isn’t quite sure. Apparently, in their last interview, McLeod indicated a desire to stay in Chicago (presumably with the Cubs) to be close to his children and finish off the business of winning a championship. And while you might scoff at that last bit, it is something we’ve heard each of the top three (Epstein, Hoyer, McLeod) repeat on occasion.
Consider, if the Cubs fail to win the World Series this season (which could happen given the randomness of the playoffs), they’d still have a really good chance next year. Being a part of that final team really does mean something and can be a convincing impetus to stick around. Of course, there’s the family aspect, as well, which can be as strong a pull as anything in our lives.
Finally, the Twins haven’t actually decided whether they’re hiring a General Manager or a President of Baseball Operations. If they look to hire/hire a GM, they’ll almost certainly be looking at guys like McLeod. If, however, they go the President route, the Twins might step up their search to include any currently-sitting or recently-deposed GMs. While McLeod could certainly handle such a job, the competition for that role would probably be quite a bit more significant. And from there, that President would be in charge of hiring his own GM – which could turn things entirely on their head.
Suffice it to say, then, that there is an open, high-profile executive job available in Minnesota, and the Cubs have many attractive targets including (and especially) Jason McLeod.
*While McLeod isn’t quite the President of Baseball Operations or the General Manager of the Cubs, he is pretty clearly a prominent voice inside the front office. A promotion would still be a promotion, but I doubt he’s starving for more “say.”