For now, the Chicago Cubs are fine operating without a new general manager.
With his first major trade under his belt as president of baseball operations, one might assume Jed Hoyer’s next move would be find his new right-hand man. For nearly a decade, he served in the role of Cubs general manager under Theo Epstein. But, for now, it’ll be a one-man show for Chicago.
Speaking to reporters this week after the trade of Yu Darvish, Hoyer didn’t establish a timeline for the search, but did make some important distinctions regarding direction the organization will take with the next GM.
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"“(…) I feel like it’s really important for me to spend time with the person that we’re going to hire, to be able to have multiple dinners together, to meet their family. I don’t feel like I can do that during a pandemic. I don’t want to simply do stuff over Zoom. I don’t want that person to not be able to fly their family in to look at Chicago (before moving) here. I’m going to wait until some point this summer where I feel like things have opened up enough that I can do the search how I want to do it.”"
Earlier this offseason, Jared Porter looked like a potential front runner for the role given his array of experience and previous ties to Hoyer himself. But the Cubs’ slow pace wound up costing them, with Porter joining the New York Mets as their new general manager.
But if you take a step back and think, that might end up being a major win for Chicago. For years, it’s been the same group running the show, rolling pretty much the same roster out in hopes of replicating the success from 2016. Taking a more cautious approach when filling the GM vacancy will allow the team to bring in a fresh set of eyes – something you could say has been needed for some time.
"“Ultimately, what I’ve decided to do is wait a little bit to hire a GM. I definitely am going to hire someone from the outside for that role. But the more I thought about the role, and the more I thought about the interview process and what I need, I’m never going to be able to replicate the relationship I had with Theo. That was born of being together since we were 28 years old.”"
Hoyer finds himself in a pretty unenviable position. He’s working with a mandate to cut payroll, relying on a gutted organization that was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The core he helped put together is at the end of its journey, with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo all in their last year of team control.
We’ve seen more change already this offseason than we have in the last three years put together, with the non-tendering of Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber and the trade of Darvish. The jury is out – and will be for several years – on said trade, but Hoyer is quickly becoming the punching bag of Cubs fans on Twitter.
Once he lands his go-to person to serve as GM, it’s safe to assume that it’ll still be Hoyer who either has the target on his back or reaps the praise for kickstarting the next era of Cubs baseball, much the same as Epstein did during his lengthy tenure on the North Side.