From Jon Heyman (who, yes, I know, has hardly been a model of accuracy throughout this process):
In a possible surprise twist, the Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein are said to have interest in Padres general manager Jed Hoyer to join a baseball operations department they hope is headed soon by Epstein, who is waiting in limbo while the Cubs and Red Sox resolve the compensation issue to complete the trade that would put Epstein in charge of Chicago’s beloved North Side team.
It’s uncertain how the Padres would react to the Cubs interest in Hoyer but if he is able to go to Chicago, Byrnes would be elevated to GM.
A move by Hoyer, 37, would be seen as fairly shocking since he’s already a GM, but perhaps the Cubs could give him the same title, while making Epstein a president. Nothing is known to be finalized yet, and it could still be Byrnes going to Chicago, but the possibility that it could be Hoyer instead was raised by several people familiar with the talks.
Hoyer’s is a name that was a surprising omission in the first round of GM rumors. After all, he is a young, sabermetrics-and-development-inclined GM, cut from the same cloth as Theo Epstein (indeed, the two worked together in Boston (with Josh Byrnes, whose name has come up frequently)). San Diego is a wonderful city, but few would argue that the GM job in Chicago is a slightly better gig than heading up the Padres. It probably pays better, too.
You don’t need me to tell you that inking Hoyer (or Byrnes) soon would be tremendously beneficial to the Cubs in their compensation discussions with the Red Sox. With someone like Hoyer (or Byrnes (before you ask, it seems highly unlikely that the Padres would let both Hoyer and Byrnes go (is that enough embedded parentheticals for you?))) already in place, the Cubs could comfortably wait the Red Sox out.
Not to mention the fact that the Cubs would then be headed towards one of the best front offices (on paper) in baseball, with Hoyer/Byrnes as GM and Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least suggest that this is an intentional leak coming from the Cubs, designed to put pressure on the Red Sox. “See, Red Sox? We don’t need Theo immediately. We’d be fine waiting a year for him if we had to. We’ve got a stud GM in place. Enjoy your $7 million mail delivery boy.” Also, keep in mind that there could be a compensation issue involved in bringing Hoyer over to a lateral position – but let’s keep our heads wrapped around one compensation battle at a time.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that these machinations align almost perfectly with the suggestion I made on Saturday – namely, that the Cubs try to line up a “back-up” GM now, someone who wants to work in a Theo-led front office regardless of his precise role. The Cubs would be hard pressed to find a better option in that role than someone like Hoyer, or someone like Byrnes.