What Jed Hoyer brings to the table as Cubs usher in new era
The Theo Epstein Era will always be known for the curse-breaking, history-making World Series championship in 2016.
It remains to be seen what the Jed Hoyer Era will be known for, but the Cubs believe they’re still positioned for success despite transition in both the front office and on the roster.
Part of the reason the Cubs are excited about Hoyer’s ascension from general manager to president of baseball operations is the continuity he brings, ensuring this period of change isn’t a complete 180 from the most successful stretch in franchise history.
So what will be the main difference between Epstein and Hoyer as front office leaders?
“Besides height?” Epstein joked, taking a good-natured shot at his close friend. “It might be leadership style, borne of personality. First of all, he’s just a great leader and great friend and incredible to work with. He’s probably more measured, maybe a bit more methodical, contemplative and so maybe — by extension — the systems that are in place and the decision-making processes will evolve in a way that reflects his approach and personality.
“I think that’s the way things should be and I think the Cubs will ultimately benefit from that because you have a leader put his stamp on the organization.”
Hoyer spent two years as the top guy in baseball operations with the San Diego Padres before coming to the Cubs in the fall of 2011 when Epstein took over the Chicago front office.
Above all else, Epstein has no doubt Hoyer has earned this opportunity and is ready to take over the Cubs baseball operations.
Hoyer will face immediate challenges, as the Cubs have some tough decisions to make over the next couple months. Four members of the core — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kyle Schwarber — have only one year left of team control, so Hoyer and the rest of the front office have to navigate those situations.
Will that mean some big trades this winter? Or contract extensions?
Beyond that, Hoyer is also tasked with changing the narrative and finding a way to shore up some of the team’s weaknesses that have cropped up over the stretch run the last few seasons.
“Jed is someone who’s extremely progressive, forward-thinking, honest with himself about the organization and he’s always been at the forefront of our attempts to change and to modernize,” Epstein said. “I’m confident that even though he’s been here, the Cubs are getting the benefit of fresh eyes — so to speak — and that he’ll be a force for continued progress and change within the organization.”
Over the last couple years, Epstein has challenged Hoyer to get a bit more involved in every aspect of the organization, from scouting to analytics to the clubhouse.
Between his growth in those areas and his personable, social personality, Epstein is confident Hoyer is the right man for the job.
When the front office attended social functions or cocktail parties in the past, Epstein was always grateful for Hoyer’s presence because the GM worked the room and talked to every single person, taking the pressure off Epstein and allowing him to have 1-on-1 conversations.
“That’s his personality,” Epstein said. “He’s amazing to talk to and makes people feel great about themselves and has really productive conversations where he questions himself, questions others, questions processes and ultimately gets closer to the right answer. So now that he’s been right in the middle of things in this organization, reaching every crevice of the organization, we’ve grown because of that.
“It’s set him up for success as a leader and that’s an area where he’s grown in the last couple years where maybe he didn’t have those relationships all through the organization a couple years ago. Upon being challenged and maybe seeing this on the horizon, he’s really jumped in and this will be such a seamless transition because of that.”
Despite all the tough decisions ahead of him, the Cubs also did not want to shake things up too much. This is a team that has rattled off six straight winning seasons, making the playoffs five times and winning the division three times in that stretch.
With Manager of the Year finalist David Ross on the top step of the dugout and talent all over the roster and in the front office, the Cubs know there are several key areas of strength in the organization and promoting Hoyer from within helps preserve that strength.
“I’m very, very excited about the transition and the continuity that we have in front of us,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “While we’re losing one of the best leaders in all of baseball, I feel like we’re also gaining one of the best leaders in all of baseball.
“I have no doubt that the organization is in the best place it could be and positioned for future, ongoing sustained success.”