Last year, when COVID-19 brought much of the world – and Major League Baseball – to a screeching halt, many big league owners, including Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, made drastic slashes to budgets in hopes of staving off those ‘biblical’ losses.
This went far beyond salary dump trades like we saw with Yu Darvish last December, choosing to non-tender former first-rounders like Kyle Schwarber or watching Jon Lester pack his bags despite being willing to come back for ‘just about anything’. Front offices, Chicago’s included, were gutted.
On the North Side, in excess of 100 individuals lost their jobs – and it led to fewer people doing more work, something that became increasingly common not just in baseball but in industries of all shapes and sizes. First-year president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was playing with half a deck in his inaugural season at the helm – but he’ll soon have a number two to help shoulder the burden, according to The Athletic (subscription required).
That report, which I encourage you to read for yourself, outlines four candidates – although it also notes more candidates may still be in the hunt for the role, as well. We’ll let Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney tell you all you need to know about the reported finalists. For now, let’s focus on the larger picture: Hoyer having a right-hand man (or woman) is a strong sign the Cubs’ organizational structure is healing after a grueling stretch over the last two years.
They’ll need that structure, too. Chicago is coming off a 91-loss 2021 season, marking the team’s worst single-year showing since back in 2013. The former franchise cornerstones – Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez – are gone. If Hoyer can’t hammer out an extension with two-time All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, he could soon follow suit, as well.
Chicago Cubs: New GM will have strong prospect development track record
In other words, the team is looking at a largely blank slate at the big league level. Sure, you have guys like Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom. But you can’t be 100 percent sure either will be able to replicate their success again in 2022. The hope and future of this team rests in the prospect ranks, which was replenished at the trade deadline this July.
Despite that much-needed infusion of talent, the Cubs still largely lack impact prospects in the upper levels of the system. The lone exception to that statement, of course, is stud outfielder Brennen Davis, who ranks as the #14 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
Whoever joins Hoyer atop the front office faces a daunting task – and while we might not know who that individual is just yet – you can guarantee they have a strong background in prospect development because, without that, this Cubs team is going nowhere anytime soon.