Under former president of baseball operations, the Chicago Cubs were once hailed as one of the most forward-thinking front offices in all of Major League Baseball. But in the years following the team’s historic championship run, other organizations quickly left them in the dust.
So there were more than a few folks worried that when Tom Ricketts passed the torch to Jed Hoyer when Epstein departed with one year left on his contract, it would simply be a continuation of past practices, which we’d already seen become outdated in some regards. But the last six months or so have shown that Hoyer is determined to make his own mark on the club.
In my mind, you can’t be too critical of anything Hoyer did last offseason, with the sport in a precarious spot after a largely fan-less 60-game season. Revenues were nonexistent without ticket sales and ownership took a hacksaw to budgets, including baseball operations.
That led to Hoyer jettisoning the 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up, Yu Darvish, in a blatant cost-cutting move (that actually didn’t look so bad given the right-hander’s fall-off in the second half of 2021). Any additions heading into this year were marginal, at best, and the mid-summer fire sale that drew the ire of fans added badly-needed prospect capital to the ranks.
Once Jason Heyward’s contract comes off the books in 2023, Hoyer will essentially have a clean slate when it comes to payroll obligations, which will allow him and his new front office to begin to start fresh.
After having Hoyer fly solo this year, the Cubs finally brought in a new general manager Carter Hawkins, who built his reputation in the Cleveland front office, focusing on player development.
Chicago Cubs: Player development is at the forefront for this front office
Of course, Chicago’s 2016 title and lengthy stretch of postseason appearances were largely predicated on that homegrown core group of position players. But the team has repeatedly failed to supplement the pitching staff with impactful young arms – and it eventually handcuffed Epstein and Hoyer financially, having to constantly look to free agency or depleting the farm system in trades in an effort to bolster the team’s pitching.
"“Ultimately, that’ll be the key to this next wave of success is how well can we take these players we traded for and get them to the big leagues,” Hoyer told the Chicago Tribune back in October. “International signings, amateur signings — we know we have to do a great job in player development over the next three to five years.”"
Hoyer and Hawkins also landed Ehsan Bokhari as the team’s new assistant GM. Bokhari comes from another organization that’s prided itself on player development in the Houston Astros. He focused a lot on research, analytics and development during his time with the organization, which is just another feather in the cap of this new Cubs’ front office.
As the team looks to rebuild its internal team after massive layoffs stemming from the pandemic, Hoyer has made it perfectly clear: it’s not business as usual in the offices at Gallagher Way. He’s bringing fresh ideas, forward-thinking perspectives and new blood to his front office, in hopes it leads to another stretch of dominance for his Chicago Cubs.