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McLeod has Cubs' blessing if Padres call

CHICAGO -- If the San Diego Padres are interested in Chicago Cubs executive Jason McLeod for their vacant general manager position his current employer won't stand in his way.

"I'm going to let all news on the Padres search come out of San Diego," Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday afternoon. "It's how I would expect it if we were looking for an executive. Suffice to say I think the world of Jason. We've worked together on and off since 1995. He's one of my best friends and the guy I kind of cut my teeth with. He's done a great job here leading the scouting and player development staff. ... He'd be an asset to any organization."

McLeod has been instrumental in all aspects of the Cubs' rebuilt farm system after arriving from San Diego with current general manager Jed Hoyer in the winter of 2011. He oversaw some of the same things with the Padres before leaving and his familiarity with their organization could make him interesting to them now.

McLeod also worked with Epstein and Hoyer in Boston when they won two World Series titles together. He's been the senior vice president, player development and amateur scouting since the new Cubs regime took over.

"When he feels he's ready for that next step, which I think he is, he would be at the top of anyone's list in my opinion," Epstein said.

As for what the Cubs would do without McLeod overseeing their draft and player development, Epstein says they'd simply have to move on.

"It would be a big loss," he said. "His heart is in this. This organization is bigger than any one person. If I stepped away tomorrow we would be fine. Whenever we lose a key person I expect others to pick up the slack, and we'll continue to move in the right direction. Jason is a huge talent. At some point I expect him to do a great job as a GM."

McLeod didn't return an email inquiring about his interest in the position.

The Padres fired Josh Byrnes on Sunday after two and a half years as general manager.