The truth of the headline depends on who you ask, especially since nothing official can come out during the World Series without commissioner Bud Selig's permission. A rumor surfaced this week has picked up steam, though, and now appears to be coming true. Jed Hoyer, the current general manager of the San Diego Padres, is set to reunite with his former boss, Theo Epstein, in Chicago, as the Cubs' new GM:
We've been waiting on a resolution to the Epstein situation, as the two teams attempted to sort out the issue of compensation for the former Red Sox GM who has one year left on his deal. Hoyer is a newer issue, fresh enough that there has been nary a peep of compensation to the Padres for taking him when he has two years and an option left on his current contract. Ignoring what it would cost to take Hoyer from San Diego (it could be nothing, according to ESPN Chicago), why is it that the Cubs want him in charge?
Hoyer, like Epstein, is 37 years old. He's part of the new wave of analytical-minded general managers, but, like his former (and potentially future) boss, he understands the importance of scouting and a strong farm system. That's one of the reasons he was such a strong fit for San Diego: the Padres have a limited budget -- especially as Jeff Moorad finishes purchasing the team -- and need to develop talent from within, something the previous administration under Kevin Towers failed to do.
This would actually be Hoyer's third gig as a general manager, as he was part of the co-GM situation in Boston when Epstein initially left in late 2005, along with the new Sox GM, Ben Cherington. That lasted for just over a month, but Hoyer was part of the negotiations that led to Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett heading to Boston in exchange for prospects Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez, as well as the trade that moved Edgar Renteria to the Braves in exchange for then top-prospect Andy Marte (who would later be moved to the Indians for Coco Crisp once Epstein had returned his gorilla suit to Fenway).
In his longer (but still short) tenure in San Diego, Hoyer's free-agent acquisitions of Jerry Hairston Jr., Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Stairs, Jon Garland, and a trade for Miguel Tejada brought them to 90 wins in 2010, one shy of a playoff berth a season after winning just 75. While those may not seem like huge acquisitions, all of them played well -- and at a low cost -- and filled important holes in the lineup and rotation. Garland was especially important -- he threw over 200 innings just one season after the Padres had just three pitchers even cross the 100 innings pitched mark. He also attempted to improve the team at the deadline (see: Tejada) without giving up any major prospects, as the future was the real key despite their play.
Losing Adrian Gonzalez to free agency was inevitable, forcing Hoyer to deal him for prospects. That hole in the lineup couldn't be replaced in 2011, and the Padres fell to 71 wins thanks to that as well as injuries in both the lineup and rotation. Hoyer still made the most of the year, though, dealing shut down set-up reliever Mike Adams for two well-regarded pitching prospect in Robert Erlin and Joseph Weiland, and acquiring their likely center fielder of the future, Cameron Maybin, in exchange for a pair of middle relievers, a position where the Padres had a surplus.
Those two pitchers are just the most recently-added prospects worth paying attention to, as in the Gonzalez deal, the team picked up Anthony Rizzo (.331/.404/.652 in Triple-A) and pitcher Casey Kelly (a former shortstop, just 21 years old and at Double-A), and the two Hoyer drafts were fruitful, producing intriguing prospects like Jedd Gyorko, as well as this year's crop where four of their five first-round picks signed.
If this is it for Hoyer in San Diego, he helped build the foundations for a strong club of the future, fueled by a farm system that should (in theory) produce productive players. That's just what the Cubs are in need of as well; getting the band back together in Chicago gives the Cubs an even better chance of ending their championship drought.