The dinner that sold Jed Hoyer on Carter Hawkins as new Cubs GM
Jed Hoyer took a look at his watch and was surprised.
It was after midnight and his dinner with Carter Hawkins had gone well over five hours.
“That’s a pretty good indicator that I think the conversation flowed easily,” Hoyer said.
It was a strong gauge that Hoyer had found the perfect candidate to fill the role of general manager for the Cubs, too.
Since he took the position of president of baseball operations, Hoyer was deliberate in his strategy with filling the general manager seat for a pair of reasons. Hoyer wanted the staff he already had in place to grow and step out of their comfort zone.
Just as importantly, though, he wanted to find someone from outside the organization who would not only bring new ideas, but also someone with whom he’d have a good rapport with.
“If we’re going to be able to travel together, spend a ton of time together and have those stressful, stressful moments together,” Hoyer said, “you have to really feel comfortable in that person’s presence.”
Hoyer knew the importance of that relationship. After all, he had built a strong connection with Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ former president of baseball operations. The pair could bounce ideas off one another and challenge themselves.
So, he didn’t want to hire just any candidate for the role. He reached out to other organizations and front offices that he respected to find a pool of people that fit.
“One name came up every time,” he said. “And that was Carter Hawkins.”
Hoyer began having conversations with Hawkins and other contenders for the position, but Hawkins’ really cemented himself when he was in town just a couple of weeks ago.
The pair went out to dinner at Alla Vita with the AL Wild Card game on in the background.
“It felt more like Eli Manning and Peyton Manning breaking down a Wild Card game than doing an interview,” Hawkins said.
That was the selling point not just for Hoyer but for Hawkins, too.
“It was very comfortable from the get-go,” Hawkins said. “A lot of our conversations did get very deep into the personal level.”
“We were totally engaged in that,” Hoyer said. “And I think that’s incredibly important.”
The dinner and conversation that followed was so engaging, that Hawkins even missed his ride back to his hotel.
“The guy that was supposed to pick me up went home because he thought the restaurant had closed,” Hawkins said with a smile.
But the key takeaway was that Hoyer had his GM.
He found someone from an organization that has had a run of success in Cleveland and has excelled in developing homegrown talent that wins at the major league level. Hoyer found someone that he can talk coolly and freely with. He found someone that wants to grow and succeed.
“He spoke with clarity and conviction about leadership, employee development, organizational alignment and team building,” Hoyer said. “The breadth of our conversation was really remarkable. It really showed his preparation for all aspects of the GM job today.”
And Hawkins found someone that can challenge him, that cares about him and that can be a friend. Hoyer went above and beyond the employee relationship. Hoyer’s wife, Merrill, connected with Hawkins’ wife, Lindsay, to help with the transition of moving from Cleveland to Chicago with young children.
“It showed that he cared for people at a very high level,” Hawkins said.
Now, the two will get to work on building what Hoyer has repeatedly called “the next great Cubs team.” And that starts with the budding relationship the two have cultivated already.
“He and Theo, I would not even want to think that we would even come close to that type of relationship,” Hawkins said. “But if we can get a tenth of that, maybe we’ll be OK.”