In his presidency-ending press conference this week, Theo Epstein revealed a couple moments when incoming president Jed Hoyer nailed a transaction decision.
When the Cubs were in talks to acquire post-hype righty Jake Arrieta from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade, it was Hoyer who insisted that the Cubs could also push for a throw-in relief arm, and that arm should be that of Pedro Strop, despite his recent deep struggles. And when the Red Sox and Padres were talking about Adrian Gonzalez, Hoyer – then the GM of the Padres – would not do the deal with Lars Anderson included instead of Anthony Rizzo.
Sahadev Sharma shares another behind-the-scenes transactional moment from Hoyer’s time as a GM, and it does make you wonder:
“More recently, Hoyer struggled when the Cubs made the trade for José Quintana. He obviously understood the need for controllable pitching to be added to the Cubs’ starting staff and appreciated that Quintana could fill that need. However, his evaluation of Eloy Jiménez was high enough that he had a significant pause in consummating the deal. Had Hoyer had the final say, who knows how things may have been different.”
Who knows, indeed.
That is not to say that Hoyer absolutely wouldn’t have done the deal, or that – in such an alternate timeline – things wouldn’t have turned out differently. Whenever that trade comes up, I do feel it’s important to point out that Quintana was critical down the stretch for the Cubs in 2017 (a team that reached the NLCS), and his contract was part of the reason the Cubs could thereafter afford to sign Yu Darvish. Moreover, Dylan Cease has yet to establish himself, and it’s still early on Jimenez (particularly when you factor in defense).
Howeva … I, too, was extremely high on Jimenez’s bat as a prospect, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it comforts me a little to learn that Hoyer was not super into the idea of trading him away. There’s no changing things now, but it’s a mild credit to Hoyer’s perspective.