In their quest to finally manage to build a winning team around the best player of his generation, the Angels appear to have become enamored by the Cubs’ way of doing things. They fell all over themselves to hire Joe Maddon once his contract expired last season — which eventually led to me getting a tattoo, sort of — and now they are targeting members of the Cubs’ front office to fill the GM position after firing Billy Eppler.
We could even take things a step further and say that Anaheim may be looking to further imitate the Cubs by restructuring their own front office to include both a GM and a president of baseball operations. That means casting a wide net in a search that could take another month to complete.
“It’s not going to be a rush,” team president John Carpino said back in September. “Ideally, to have someone in place — just call it Thanksgiving — would be a good timeframe for us, but we’re going to go through the process and interview as many candidates as it takes to get the right person for the job.”
The first report of a Cubs exec being targeted came from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, who tweeted Wednesday that the Angels had asked for permission to interview VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz. That could have been a real blow to the organization since Kantrovitz has been on the job less than a year and was brought in specifically to revamp their scouting efforts, but he has turned down the opportunity and will remain with the Cubs.
Morosi then reported Thursday evening that the Angels have interviewed senior VP of player personnel Jason McLeod, who had previously overseen the Cubs’ scouting and development efforts prior to a front office shuffle last year. The move was lateral, though some saw the transition away from the development side as something of a demotion. Others saw it as a way for McLeod to work more directly with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, either as part of an eventual transition plan or as a way to strengthen his resume.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 30, 2020
Perhaps, as is the case with most things, all of the above hold true. The Cubs weren’t exactly paragons of success when it came to churning out big league talent under McLeod, at least not beyond any players selected at the top of the draft. At the same time, there’s a reason they wanted to keep him in the front office in a different capacity. You can look to how they just let former assistant GM Shiraz Rahman walk to see how it works when Epstein doesn’t really feel someone’s a great fit any longer.
For now, though, there does appear to be a little redundancy at the top of the Cubs’ flat hierarchy, particularly if Epstein indeed sticks around to finish out his 10th year. And even if they choose to run it back with the same core for 2021, it’s beyond obvious that they’ll need to get a lot more production out of their farm system over the next few years. That means even more of a focus than before in that area, which could also mean not having to draw as heavily upon McLeod’s expertise.
It could also mean McLeod takes Hoyer’s role as the current GM steps up following Epstein’s departure. Guess we’ll just have to see what the Angels do first.