The Cubs search for a new general manager is long from being concluded but that does not mean that there are no finalists emerging for the position. It is no secret that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is the favorite of Tom Ricketts, and Chicago White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn is the media favorite. In addition to Hahn and Cashman, Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox, Josh Byrnes of the San Diego Padres, Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, and Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays have been linked to the Cubs general manager opening. While the Cubs general manager position is highly regarded among baseball circles, it is looking more and more likely that the next general manager of the Cubs will be a highly-touted assistant general manager instead of one of the “big name” general managers.
Ideally, the Cubs would like to choose from Epstein, Cashman, or Friedman for their next general manager but it would appear that all three of those potential will not be changing addresses this winter. While the tension between Cashman and the new-era Steinbrenners has been well documented this season, multiple reports confirm that there is an understanding between Cashman and the Steinbrenners that the long-time general manager of the Yankees will continue his tenure in New York. Theo Epstein has admitted that the Cubs general manager position may be one of the most exciting jobs in baseball, though, Epstein does not have the desire to leave the team that he worshiped as child in the Boston Red Sox. As for Friedman, despite gaining steam as the week began, it now appears that 34 year old baseball genius will remain with the Rays organization.
With the “big 3” looking unlikely, that now leaves White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn, and Padres vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes as two of the leading candidates. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated confirmed as much through twitter, tweeting that with Cashman, Friedman, and Epstein looking like long-shots the two names that he has heard are Hahn and Byrnes. Keep in mind, there are probably a handful of other candidates that are being considered that the media has yet to speculate on. Though for the sake of the this post, lets go with the idea that the next general manager of the Cubs will be Hahn or Byrnes.
Now I can debate Byrnes with Arizona residents till I’m blue in the face, but at the same time, that does not mean I think he should be the general manager of the Cubs. If not because of player development and transactions, then the reason many Diamondbacks fans loath Byrnes as a general manager because of his managerial hiring. There never really was a true answer given as to why Byrnes decided to fire Bob Melvn and replace him with A.J. Hinch. But, if anything, I would say that Byrnes let his emotions get the best of him and made an irrational decision. Believe it or not, I am willing to give a general manager at least one bad managerial hire. But it would seem, to me at least, that Byrnes may be his own worst enemy. Whether or not he has matured from his time as Diamondbacks general manager remains to be seen. But he is not as bad as some Diamondbacks try to spin him as being, but he is not one of the great prodigies to come from the Theo Epstein tree of front-office executives. While Ricketts does appear to have some type of business relationship with Byrnes, I can’t honestly imagine he is a viable candidate for the Cubs general manager position.
Meanwhile, everything is lining up nicely for Rick Hahn to get his first general manager job as general manager of the Chicago Cubs. While there has been some speculation that the White Sox would prevent Hahn from interviewing for the Cubs’ position, it turns out that Hahn has a clause in his contract that allows him to interview for any and all general manager openings including the Cubs. So, Hurdle 1 has been cleared. The next hurdle would be whether or not Ricketts will consider an assistant general manager.After failing to concretely address that issue during last Friday’s press conference, sources have confirmed that assistant general managers are being considered. So with the two largest hurdles now cleared, and the “big name” general managers looking like a long-shot, Hahn would appear to be the favorite to land the Cubs general manager position. While he may not be a “big name” just yet, considering his background and knowledge of the Cubs organization, it may not be long before Hahn is considered one of the top general managers in the game.