As president Jed Hoyer searched for the person who would take his old job as the Cubs’ general manager, he wanted the candidate to be from outside the organization. Someone who could put a fresh set of eyes on the team’s situation and help provide a more detailed look at some of its deficiencies.
After interviewing and narrowing his search over the last few weeks, Hoyer identified Carter Hawkins as the person for the job. On Monday, Hawkins was introduced as the 16th GM in franchise history, filling a position that had been vacant for nearly a year.
“You think about any plan, you start with the concept of where am I?” Hawkins said. “And then you figure out, where do I want to go? Then you figure out how do you bridge the gap in terms of how do I get there? And those are the things that you want to implement? Right now, it’s at that ‘Where am I?’ stage.
“It really is getting to understand the organization but finding out what processes are already in place, all of which have been very successful, obviously; 2016 can show us that. But really understanding those areas and figuring out where some of my experiences might be able to help.”
“As I began making calls around the league this summer, one name came up every time. And that was Carter Hawkins,” Hoyer said. “As we moved, as we started talking on the phone during this process, and then as we moved to formal interviews, it became clear to me how he built such a sterling reputation.”
Hawkins, 37, got his start in Cleveland’s front office as an intern. He worked his way up the ranks, becoming director of player development before becoming an assistant GM in 2016.
The Cubs made a flurry of trades last season, moving three core players from their World Series roster to jump-start their rebuild. Hawkins’ expertise in player development and talent evaluation will be beneficial as the Cubs continue to overhaul their roster.
“It is so easy to skip steps. It is so easy to take the path of least resistance. It is so easy to pull the plug on the process when you don’t get immediate results,” Hawkins said. “But I know that [a sound process] can happen here for two really good reasons. One, it has happened here. And two, it is happening here.
“What Jed and Theo [Epstein] put together roughly 10 years ago today has raised the bar in Chicago for baseball to an incredibly high level. The challenge is how do we raise it even further. And that is a difficult challenge but one I’m eager to take on with all the people I mentioned earlier.”
With Hawkins hired and the team’s front office now set, the real work begins for the Cubs ahead of what’s expected to be a busy offseason. The Cubs, who are coming off their first 90-loss season since 2014, have several holes to fill.
Despite the deficiencies, Hoyer has been adamant that the front office will have the means to spend “intelligently” this offseason and vows to compete next season. The team’s payroll for 2022 is $41 million, but the Cubs haven’t made any significant moves in free agency since signing starter Yu Darvish in 2018.
One of the benefits of being a GM of a major-market team is the resources at one’s disposal. While Hawkins will have budgets that the front office in Cleveland didn’t, he emphasized the importance of not skipping steps in the Cubs’ process of building its next contender.
“It’s easier said than done all the time,” Hawkins said. “But I think the key to being disciplined in your processes is having great people that are invested in the vision where people are disciplined to their processes.
“We are being disciplined in our decisions and deliberate in our decisions, but that doesn’t mean not making decisions. That doesn’t mean inaction over action. Like we have to make decisions, we have to be always moving forward, always looking for the next thing, just be deliberate in that process.”