After several days of speculation, the Chicago Cubs confirmed the hiring of former Cleveland Indians Assistant GM Carter Hawkins as the 16th general manager in franchise history. Hawkins, 37, will serve under president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who, for the first time since his promotion, has a right-hand man. The Cubs are clearly hoping Hawkins’ previous experience with player development in Cleveland will help in this transition phase the team is working through.
“I am thrilled to bring Carter into our organization,” Hoyer said in a statement. “He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility and intelligence. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building.
Like other franchises around the league, the Cubs are going younger in terms of executives. While Hawkins may be young, he brings plenty of experience in Major League Baseball. He had spent the past 14 years with the Cleveland organization and had worn many hats while working there. He began as a scouting intern in 2008, moved his way to full-time scout the following year, became Assistant Director of Player Development in 2010, and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 2015 before becoming Assistant GM following the 2016 season.
Since 2009 the Indians have developed a number of talented players, particularly on the pitching front. In recent years they have seen great success from 2020 Cy Young winner Shane Bieber. They have also developed other notable players including Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger among others. Considering the Indians are not massive spenders, it is impressive that the franchise had developed enough talent to help them to eight consecutive winning seasons (2013-2020) with five postseason appearances and an AL pennant in 2016.
While Cleveland is going through a bit of a transition of their own, their farm is in very good shape. Hawkins and the Cleveland brass built a top-five farm system in baseball according to FanGraphs and they currently hold five prospects in MLB.com’s top-100 prospects list (four in top-100 according to FanGraphs rankings).
Whether one is an assistant GM, in charge of player development, scouting, etc. seeing success like this is a team effort and Hawkins was a notable part of their success the past decade.
Chicago Cubs: Can Carter Hawkins replicate his history of developing pitching?
It was important for Hoyer to find someone who has experience in scouting, developing and integrating talent from within. Cleveland’s reputation of producing quality young pitching is something the Cubs have not been able to do and that needs to change. Not only has Cleveland developed these arms but they knew which ones to bring in as well – showcasing an eye for pitching.
In this year’s upcoming draft the Cubs will have the seventh overall pick. This, plus a farm system that is deep but very raw will give Hawkins the opportunity to help steer the Cubs in the right direction in 2022. Hard to really put a timetable of expectations together yet, regardless, developing talent within the organization next season will be crucial. Not only in the sense of establishing future building blocks but to build potential trade chips within the organization for established assets down the road.
The Cubs will hold an official press conference introducing Hawkins at Wrigley Field on Monday.
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Getting the GM position filled was a big first step this offseason and it was good that Hoyer was able to get it done in a timely manner. The top dogs of the Cubs front office are now in place and these two will be the primary minds behind what happens going forward.