Oneri Fleita Forced On New General Manager


After firing Jim Hendry as general manager of the Chicago Cubs, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told reporters that the new general manager would have complete authority over the baseball operations of the organization. Ricketts announced that the new general manager would report directly to him, bypassing team president Crane Kenney. Ricketts has made little progress on finding the Cubs’ next general manager, as the team chairman is still in the research phase. Ricketts has spent the past couple of weeks researching various candidates such as Billy Beane, Rick Hahn, Josh Byrnes, Brian Cashman, and other big name general manager candidates.

However, no progress has been made on any of the candidates. The latest reports seem to indicate that Ricketts will likely take another couple of weeks researching candidates before he even begins to set up interviews with the various candidates. Until the Cubs name their next general manager, the expectation was that other front office personnel would have to wait for their fate to be decided.

But, Ricketts may have let his inexperience get the best of him as the Cubs owner may have rushed to judgement in a recent front office decision that he made. Doing so may have jeopardized the Cubs general manager search. On Friday, the Cubs announced that they have given a new four year contract to vice president of player personnel, Oneri Fleita.

There is no question that Fleita has had some successes during his time as VP of player personnel. Fleita has played a role in the Cubs improving farm system, scouting players such as Carlos Marmol, Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto, and Brett Jackson. But the prospects in the Cubs farm system and the ones currently playing at the major league are more a credit to scouting director Tim Wilken and not Fleita. In essence, Fleita may have rode the coattails of Wilken’s success to earn his new four year contracts.

The problem with the move, is that the new general manager will now have Fleita forced on them. I can see if it was Wilken, but Ricketts may have been too quick to pull the trigger on Fleita’s extension. The reason for the extension was that Fleita was being pursued by the Detroit Tigers, and Ricketts put a quick end to that by handing Fleita a new contract. But this move may make the Cubs general manager position less attractive to some of the big name candidates. For instance, I can’t imagine that Cashman, Beane, Theo Epstein, or Andrew Friedman would be attracted to the idea of having the vice president of player personnel in place before they get there. Having said that, it now seems more likely that the new Cubs general manager will be someone who is currently a highly touted assistant general manager.

While Fleita has played a significant part in improving the Cubs minor league system, the decision to keep him around for four more years should have come from the new general manager.