Well, this was both expected and unexpected.
Baseball America reports that San Diego Padres Scouting Director Jaron Madison will be leaving the Padres in favor of a gig with the Chicago Cubs. The position will be the same as he has with the Padres.
The Cubs, you’ll note, currently have a Scouting Director. That would be Tim Wilken, one of the few holdovers at the top of the administration from the Jim Hendry era. Wilken is a well-respected scout and executive, so the Cubs pushing him out would be something of a surprise.
But I’m quite certain that’s not what’s happening.
You may recall that Wilken, before this year, was the top dog on the Cubs’ scouting food chain, but was replaced in that position by Jason McLeod, who came over from the Padres with GM Jed Hoyer. Wilken retained his Scouting Director title (was technically shifted to “Director of Amateur Scouting”), but he was effectively pushed down the ladder by McLeod, who currently heads up all things player development and scouting. It was a bit of a surprise that Wilken stayed on, and most assumed he’d be moving on at some point in the near future.
Wilken is in the final year of his deal with the Cubs, and likely stayed on for this year as a part of the transition, and with the understanding that he could be looking around for another top position in baseball, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land in the near future. In other words, I have a feeling that this is all amicable, and has long been planned.
The Cubs haven’t announced anything yet, and Wilken is technically still a part of the front office. I’ll have more on Wilken’s tenure, and on Madison – who comes over as yet another 36-year-old up-and-comer from the Padres (he was hired by Hoyer) – in the coming days.
UPDATE: Paul Sullivan just tweeted, without expanding, that Wilken is expected to “stay with Cubs in expanded role.” It’s hard to see what possibility there is for an expanded role, given that he was just one step below Jason McLeod. Not to start a panic, but, Jason isn’t leaving, right? Maybe Wilken wants to move off of the amateur side and into an Assistant GM type role? This will be interesting.
UPDATE 2: Wilken is, indeed, moving off the amateur side of the game, at least formally. He’ll become a Special Assistant to President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. Wilken is expected to get a contract extension, too. This is pretty much awesome – it’s adding to the already impressive stable of front office talent, without losing anyone.