Eleven months after Jed Hoyer was promoted from general manager to Cubs president of baseball operations in the wake of Theo Epstein’s decision to step down, the team has settled on a new general manager. The Cubs announced Friday that they’ve hired Indians assistant general manager Carter Hawkins as the 16th general manager in franchise history. Hoyer will still lead the team’s baseball operations department, but Hawkins will work closely alongside him and serve as the No. 2 executive in the team’s baseball operations hierarchy.
“I am thrilled to bring Carter into our organization,” Hoyer said in today’s press release. “He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility and intelligence. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building. I look forward to partnering with him to build the next great Cubs team.”
Though Hawkins is only 37 years old, he already has 14 years of experience working in Cleveland’s front office, working his way up the ranks from an internship to being the team’s player development director in 2014, and then a promotion to assistant GM in 2016. He’ll now join a Cubs organization that has made no secret of its desire to upgrade its farm system and player development operations.
To that end, it perhaps isn’t surprising that both Hawkins and Indians VP of player development James Harris were each on Chicago’s reported short list of GM candidates. Rays VP of player development/international scouting Carlos Rodriguez and Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll were the other names known to be on the Cubs’ radar. Hoyer said last winter that the team would wait to fill the GM role, since the circumstances of the pandemic made a proper interview process more difficult at the time.
Hawkins will now step in as Hoyer’s chief lieutenant as the Cubs begin what could be a fascinating offseason. After a fire sale of veterans at the trade deadline, Chicago now has a younger and less expensive roster, though it isn’t yet known if the Cubs plan to use this available future payroll space to make an immediate splash for 2022. Hoyer has stated that the team intends to “spend money intelligently” this winter, but the Cubs will also be “really active in free agency.”
Measured offseason spending is nothing new for Hawkins, as the Indians have a longstanding model of building through trades and homegrown prospects rather than major free agent signings. Of course, the Cubs have a much larger revenue base than Cleveland, and a drastic cut in spending doesn’t (or shouldn’t) seem feasible considering that the Cubs have been regularly approached or surpassed the $200MM payroll mark in recent years. This isn’t to say that the Cubs will immediately zoom back up to the $200MM threshold this offseason, but the plan seems to be for Hoyer, Hawkins and company to remodel the team’s minor league pipeline to the point that Chicago will have a steady run of young talent ready to augment whatever higher-priced veterans are on hand.
Britt Ghiroli, Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic first broke the news that the Cubs planned to hire Hawkins and were finalizing a contract.