There has been quite a shakeup at the field level across MLB, with managers dropping left and right due to retirement, firing, or just not being offered a new deal. The Cubs are obviously among those teams and are now engaged in a search to replace Joe Maddon, who is presumably headed to California to replace Brad Ausmus. Next year, however, it could be front office execs playing musical chairs.
That’s what Joel Sherman wrote in the New York Post, quoting a top official from an AL team who predicted a “GM purge” following the 2020 season. Sherman listed 10 teams among those that might look to reshuffle their leadership, most of which you can guess based on their recent managerial moves.
Yes, that means the Cubs are in there with the likes of Mets, Pirates, and Padres. Even though Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer engineered the first title on the North Side during our collective lifetime, diminishing results since 2016 led to Maddon’s departure and reflect poorly on the front office. The Cubs fell victim to the “winner’s trap,” getting lost in the past and failing to adequately address the future.
So will further disappointment in 2020 be enough for ownership to give Epstoyer the boot with a year remaining on their deals? Not likely, said Sherman, but Epstein himself said the Cubs don’t deal with untouchables.
Would the leadership duo of Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer be in job-losing peril if Chicago missed the playoffs again next year. Probably not after delivering the long-awaited title in 2016. But the manager of that team, Joe Maddon, is now gone, and the failure of his past two teams includes a bunch of dubious free agent signings (Jason Heyward, Tyler Chatwood, Craig Kimbrel, etc.) that has created a lack of payroll maneuverability while the system has done a poor job of producing pitching. There would be little surprise if Chicago tried to change the dynamic with a significant move — say, trading Kris Bryant.
That we’re even discussing this as being the least bit plausible is testament to the addictive power of success. Once unfamiliar with it in more than a recreational sense, the Cubs really started to score when Maddon rolled into town. Now the organization is wondering how a dynasty fell apart before it truly began while seeking a fix for an offense that broke somewhere along the lines.
Epstein talked at length about culture during his end-of-season press conference, explaining that the goal moving forward is to get back to fostering an environment that creates energy and allows players to be their best. In that regard, they aren’t trying to completely distance themselves from everything related to the 2016 team. Rather, it’s about identifying and accentuating the best human elements while not being blind to areas of improvement laid bare by metrics and/or the eye test.
So as unlikely as it is that things get so much further sideways that it necessitates a purge of the front office, such a reboot isn’t entirely out of the question if Epstein can’t make good on his vows.