While the Cubs have locked down the top three leaders in their baseball operations department by agreeing to extensions with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and senior vice president of player development Jason McLeod, the team’s front office could still see a number of executives poached by other clubs in the coming years, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Scouting director Jared Porter and assistant GM Shiraz Rehman were both mentioned in connection with the Twins recently, and both figure to come up in future front office searches. “Porter will be a GM and soon,” writes Passan, who also lists director of player development Jaron Madison and director of baseball operations Scott Harris as rising stars within the field.
A bit more from the NL Central…
- Neftali Feliz isn’t likely to get back on the mound for the Pirates this season, manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Feliz, signed as a free agent last winter, enjoyed a nice rebound campaign with the Buccos in 2016, pitching to a 3.52 ERA with 10.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate in 53 2/3 innings of work while playing on a modest $3.9MM salary. The specific nature of the arm injury that has plagued Feliz since early September remains somewhat murky, though he was reportedly cleared of elbow or shoulder troubles earlier this month. Assuming there are no major medical concerns, he’ll become yet another pitcher to significantly boost his stock in a brief stint with the Pirates, as he’ll enter the open market with an ERA nearly three runs lower and a K/9 rate that’s nearly three whiffs higher than he did a year ago.
- In a second piece from the Post-Gazette, Stephen J. Nesbitt writes that while Andrew McCutchen’s defensive ratings in center field have plummeted — his -26 DRS mark is the worst of any fielder at any position in baseball, and his -14.4 UZR is third-worst — Pirates manager Clint Hurdle isn’t ready to flip McCutchen and standout defensive left fielder Starling Marte. “I know that there are probably going to be plays that Marte can make in center field that maybe Andrew doesn’t make,” said Hurdle, “[but] there are plays Marte makes in left field that nobody can make. That’s the other point. Everybody in the street talks to me about center field. Marte makes plays in left that I don’t know if any other left fielder in the game can make.”
- The Brewers have made some changes in their scouting department, and Baseball America’s John Manuel has details on the promotions and hirings. Noted scouting director Ray Montgomery is being moved up the ladder to vice president of scouting and will now be the organization’s lead talent evaluator, whereas assistant scouting director Tod Johnson will shed the “assistant” from his title. Pro scouting director Zack Minasian will now serve as a special advisor to the scouting department. “Scouting will always be an integral aspect of our focus on acquiring and developing young talent, and we are confident that today’s moves will enhance those efforts to be among the best in the industry,” said GM David Stearns in a statement.