I don’t have to tell you there’s a lot riding on this offseason if you’re Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs. The front office and ownership alike have insisted a lengthy rebuild isn’t in the cards – and to capitalize on that promise, Hoyer and his new-look front office are going to have to hit on some high-impact moves this offseason.
It won’t be the same supporting cast we’ve grown accustomed to working side-by-side with him, though. Recent weeks have brought a great deal of change to the front office, somewhat quietly, as Hoyer looks to revitalize an organization that was once viewed as a model across the sport only to be lapped by other organizations in dramatic fashion.
Coming off their 2016 World Series title, Chicago appeared to be poised for a sustained run as legitimate championship contenders. Instead, after a third straight NLCS run the following year, the Cubs collapsed the following September and lost at home in the NL Wild Card game and missed the postseason entirely in 2019. Sure, they brought home a division title in the 60-game 2020 campaign – but got bounced by the Marlins in the first round, which was hardly a satisfying end to the year.
Now, with the core gone and scattered to the win and next to no household names left on the roster with the exceptions of Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Kyle Hendricks, Chicago is hoping that an influx of new ideas and thinking can help get things back on track sooner rather than later.
Chicago Cubs are doing something new in the front office – adapting
The most notable move was the hiring of Carter Hawkins, who spent his entire career up to this point with Cleveland. Given the Guardians’ long-standing success in developing young homegrown arms, it’s obvious where the appeal was here.
"“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.”"
Of course, after assuming the role of president of baseball operations following Epstein’s early departure following the 2020 season, Hoyer called the shots singlehandedly – with the club deciding to not backfill the role of GM for nearly a year. But the outside perspectives don’t end with Hawkins, either. Chicago also has a new assistant general manager in Ehsan Bokhari.
Bokhari comes to the Cubs via the Astros organization and, while that brand is certainly still tarnished as a result of the sign-stealing scandal from years ago, there’s no questioning that the Houston front office has established itself as a forward-thinking, analytically-inclined group. That experience is sure to pay off here in Chicago, where things have felt stagnant, at times, under the previous regime.
A failure to adapt and evolve might well be one of the single most important causes of the team’s inability to build a sustained World Series contender during the last decade. Hopefully, these hires – and moving on from guys like Jason McLeod and Randy Bush (as respected and well-regarded as they both are) – will help the Cubs get back to the front of the pack when it comes to the front office.