Cubs introduce GM Jed Hoyer
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs continued their overhaul of the front office on Tuesday when new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein introduced Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as senior vice president/scouting and player development.
The moves, which were announced Wednesday, reunite the trio which worked together with the Boston Red Sox. Hoyer has spent the past two seasons as general manager of the San Diego Padres with McLeod serving as his assistant GM.
"From my first conversation with (Cubs chairman) Tom (Ricketts) it was clear the passion and the dedication to the fan base, how much they want to bring a championship to this city," Hoyer said. "I know the commitment to getting Theo, to getting Jason and to getting me wasn't the easiest process of all time. I'm well area of that. I appreciate that hard work."
The 37-year-old Hoyer was a senior vice president and assistant GM to Epstein in Boston from 2005-09. He served as co-general manager with Ben Cherington for 44 days in 2005, when Epstein stepped away from the job while he negotiated a new deal with the Red Sox.
Hoyer is the 15th GM in Cubs history and he will report to Epstein. He will eventually run the day-to-day operations of the major league club, clearing the way for Epstein to get involved in other areas.
"I probably gave up a little bit of autonomy but knowing our relationship, it's not something I'm concerned about," Hoyer said.
The new front office has some big decisions to make with free agency underway. Pitcher Ryan Dempster made himself the Cubs' first move of the offseason on Saturday when he exercised his $14 million option for 2012.
The Cubs picked up the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who declined his player option, making him a free agent. The Cubs had two choices: either pick up the option or pay Ramirez a $2 million buyout in 2012. By offering the contract, the Cubs will be able to offer arbitration, which in turn brings them a second-round draft pick in the June 2012 draft if Ramirez signs elsewhere. In essence, the move will save the team $2 million on the buyout.
Epstein didn't sound confident -- or particularly interested -- in bringing Ramirez back.
"We certainly wish him well in the future," Epstein said. "I wouldn't rule anything out, but I would say that given his position as the top free-agent third baseman it's certainly a likelihood that another team will make him a contract that appeals to him, and we will be looking for different solutions.
"But to sit here at the onset of free agency and rule anything completely in or completely out I don't think is productive. I think reading the tea leaves it seems likely that he will be moving on, and we will be looking for a new solution at third."
Carlos Zambrano likely will be pitching elsewhere in 2012, but trading him and his $18 million contract would be a challenge.
Epstein wasn't ready to write Zambrano off just yet.
"I have had conversations with Barry Praver, Carlos' representative and those were enlightening," Epstein said. "I've sat down with a number of the guys who have been here working alongside Carlos during his Cubs career and that was also enlightening. I think now it's just a matter of processing the information, putting it together, following up with Carlos and seeing what's best for the Cubs. That's ultimately what is most important."
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The Cubs also have to decide on the future of manager Mike Quade, who is signed for one more season at $1 million. Epstein said Tuesday that he expects a decision to be made within a week.
"Jed and I met in person with Mike for six or seven hours last week," Epstein said. "I'll keep the rest of the details of the meeting confidential. But it was a good meeting, a productive meeting, a thorough meeting."
Quade has a 95-104 record since taking over the team from the retired Lou Piniella on Aug. 22, 2010.
Compensation for the Red Sox and Padres for the hirings of Epstein and Hoyer has not been determined. Tuesday was the deadline for the Cubs and Red Sox to agree on compensation, but Epstein said there is no resolution and the matter might be referred on to commissioner Bud Selig to settle.
Elsewhere, Hoyer said the Cubs are keeping Randy Bush as an assistant general manager, the same position he held under former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. When Hendry was fired this summer, Bush acted as interim general manager.
Hoyer joined the Red Sox in 2001 as an intern. He played baseball at Wesleyan University and was assistant coach there in 1999 and 2000.
Hoyer worked with Epstein on Boston player acquisitions, contract negotiations and player evaluations. His speciality was quantitative analysis, also known as sabermetrics. But he combined that with practical scouting, which he also helped direct.
The Padres went 90-72 in 2010, leading the NL West for much of the season before stumbling in September and missing the playoffs. After Hoyer traded three-time All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox and Epstein for three prospects and outfielder Eric Patterson in December, the Padres struggled badly and finished last in the division at 71-91.
Josh Byrnes was promoted to GM in San Diego to replace Hoyer.
"As I told Tom Ricketts when he first called, if we didn't have Josh Byrnes in town, you wouldn't even be having a discussion with Jed Hoyer," Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said. "But because of the relationships that exist among all involved, Jason, Jed, Theo, Josh, this is in my view a feel-good result that allows people to continue achieving their dream in the great game that we are part of, baseball in America."
McLeod's expertise is in amateur scouting. He is given credit for stocking and fortifying the Red Sox farm system under the guidance of Epstein and Hoyer.
ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.