With the smooth transition from Theo Epstein to Jed Hoyer atop the Cubs baseball operations ladder, there isn’t necessarily an urgent rush to get a new number two in place. The Cubs have an infrastructure in place, they have continuity, and there isn’t some leadership vacuum that’s gonna cost them dearly this offseason if it isn’t plugged ASAP.
That said, this is the time of year when front office transitions take place, and you don’t want to miss the window if your preferred candidate(s) is in a spot to make a move. Moreover, you DO want to get as much of your front office brain power in place as possible before the meat of the offseason. And, for the Cubs, in particular, with such a huge transition for the roster on top, it would be nice to get an external perspective – if possible – sooner rather than later.
To that end, Sahadev Sharma writes about, among other things, the possible moves that lay ahead for Jed Hoyer in the front office, as he creates a new “circle of trust,” so to speak. We know that long-standing exec Jason McLeod is still in the organization, and we know that VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz and Director of Pitching Craig Breslow (both relatively new to the org) got shouts from Theo Epstein tomorrow. But it would be surprising if Hoyer did not seek to bring in additional mind(s) to work with him, and frankly, it would be disappointing if the Cubs didn’t do so by importing from outside the organization. The process has started, but clearly, some diverse perspectives are needed for this next phase of the Cubs.
Sharma identifies a couple possibilities for Hoyer if he goes outside the organization to bring in a new General Manager (and, incidentally, they are precisely two candidates we’ve mentioned before around here when hypothesizing about a transition from Epstein before that was a reality). With the ties between the Cubs, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks organizations, it only makes sense that a former Cubs exec and a former Red Sox exec, now both with the DBacks, are named by Sharma: Assistant GMs Jared Porter and Amiel Sawdaye.
Porter was a Cubs special assistant and director of pro scouting for about a year back in 2015-16, but was with the Red Sox before that and has been with the Diamondbacks since. While he is well-known to Hoyer and there is a pre-existing relationship, he’d really be much more of an external move than an internal one.
Sawdaye was a long-timer with the Red Sox (overlapping with the Epstein/Hoyer era there) before being brought with Mike Hazen when he took over the top seat with the Diamondbacks four years ago. Since then, together with Porter (and Jason Parks, formerly of the Cubs), the Diamondbacks have done a stellar job rebuilding the org from the bottom up, consistently hitting on prospects and smaller transactions. I’ve watched them a bit closer because of the Cubs connections, and I’ve been really impressed. Hence why I bring up their front office often when the top of the post-Epstein transition comes up, and also I suspect why Sharma mentions them. In other words, I think these are very real candidates for the Cubs.
(Read Sharma’s piece for the full sense, but you’ll come away, like I did, thinking he believes Porter might be more likely than Sawdaye, for what that’s worth.)
The rub, as Sharma says, is that Porter and Sawdaye are contractually protected against leaving unless it’s for the very top job in another org. That wouldn’t be the case with the Cubs. But would they really stand in the way if the opportunity was there to get the bump from Assistant GM to GM? I would hope not.
In the meantime, we’ll keep tabs on the GM search and/or any front office restructuring. It’s possible it won’t be a matter of a new GM just coming in and everything else staying the same. There could be a lot of reshuffling now that there’s a new boss. Let’s not forget that it was Hoyer who helped push the dramatic overhaul of the scouting and player development structure last year. He’s his own man, and he may prefer an entirely different look for the front office.