- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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A meeting with scouting director Tim Wilken is next on Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts’ to-do list before he hires his next general manager.
Ricketts already extended the contract of vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita for four years, including a good-sized raise, in order to keep him from taking a job with the Detroit Tigers.
According to MLB sources, Wilken will meet with Ricketts over the weekend of Sept. 16 to discuss the state of the scouting department and his current contract status.
As it stands, Wilken has one year remaining on his deal, the same as Fleita before his extension last week.
Part of the Cubs’ recent success in developing talent has been directly linked to Wilken and his scouts signing better players for the system.
Darwin Barney, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija, Tyler Colvin and farm-system jewel Brett Jackson are just a few of the Cubs’ signings since Wilken took over the amateur and pro scouting job in December of 2005.
Before joining the Cubs, Wilken had a long, successful career in scouting and development with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays. A sample size of players he was directly involved in the signing and development of includes Roy Halladay, Shawn Green, Michael Young and Vernon Wells.
Like Fleita, Wilken will have a number of teams interested in his services. If the Cubs decide to make a further commitment to Wilken, the next general manager will have two vital positions in place when he takes over. There will, however, be some flexibility for Ricketts and his next general manager to make changes to those spots in the near future. Fleita’s deal (and a possible one for Wilkens) will be structured creatively with buyouts and options to benefit both the team and the executives.
It’s possible that some GM candidates may initially balk at having both a minor league director and scouting director in place. However, Ricketts is staunchly supportive of the current and future value of Fleita and Wilken in the Cubs organization.