Cubs put McLeod in charge of player personnel

September 12th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Cubs executive Jason McLeod has been part of building championship teams in Boston and Chicago. That has made him a big fish in the pool of potential general manager candidates.

He has interviewed with the Giants and Twins in recent years, but he stayed put with the Cubs. And he was prominent on various lists of possible replacements for Dave Dombrowski as Red Sox GM.

Instead, the Cubs on Wednesday announced a new role for McLeod in their front office. He will become senior vice president of player personnel. According to the announcement, McLeod will be involved in all aspects of the Major League operation, with particular focus on roster construction and day-to-day workings of the Major League club.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” said McLeod, who spent the past eight years as senior VP of player development and amateur scouting. “It’s going to be different.”

McLeod said he has had ongoing conversations with Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, about adjusting his role.

“It’s something Theo and I have been talking about for the better part of the past year, making this transition,” McLeod said. “I’m really excited to be around the Major League team a lot more and seeing how my skill set can impact this team.”

McLeod and Epstein’s working relationship goes back to the 1990s, when they both broke in with the Padres. McLeod rose through the Padres’ Minor League coaching and baseball operations ranks from 1994-2003 before joining Epstein in Boston. He directed Drafts that landed Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury for the Red Sox.

While working for Epstein in Boston, McLeod also became colleagues with Jed Hoyer, now the Cubs’ GM. McLeod returned to his hometown of San Diego in 2010 to work as assistant general manager under Hoyer, who landed his first GM job with the Padres.

Since the trio was reunited with the Cubs, McLeod has been charged with acquiring amateur talent and making sure that talent develops professionally. His notable Draft picks for the Cubs include Albert Almora Jr. (2012), Kris Bryant (’13), Kyle Schwarber (’14), Ian Happ (’15) and Nico Hoerner (’18).

“Jason has made immense contributions to the organization in his eight years supervising amateur scouting and player development,” Epstein said in the release. “He helped build and grow two departments that were crucial in the Cubs’ rebuild, championship and run of sustained success.

“As his career has evolved, Jason is prepared for new challenges at the Major League level, where his strengths in evaluation, development and culture-building will be quite impactful.”

What are the specifics of McLeod’s new position? Time will dictate that, but he won’t be tucked away in an office. He’ll be interacting regularly with the players and manager Joe Maddon.

“It’s still to be defined, really,” said McLeod, who traveled with the team to San Diego. “It’s Day 1 of me coming into this role. My background in player evaluation, my experience managing staffs and having led people brings a different perspective to the clubhouse environment.

“There’s a lot of history with these players. I look forward to having a lot of conversations with Joe, certainly with Theo and Jed. I’ll be on the ground floor now in terms of roster construction conversations.

“I’ve always been involved, of course, but I also had two other departments I was managing. So now, I’ll be really spearheading conversations about players we might be trying to go get for this club and some initiatives we’d like to put together to help us be better and get back to the World Series.”

Kimbrel needs more time

Closer , on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, played catch on flat ground Wednesday. That was the first time he has thrown on back-to-back days since he last pitched on Sept. 1. But there remains no target date for a bullpen session, which means no target date for Kimbrel’s return to the active roster.

“Getting there,” he said. “We’re basing everything on how I recover every day.”

Add injuries

• Infielder Addison Russell is improving from the concussion he suffered Sunday when he was hit by a pitch.

“He’s doing better; he’s feeling better,” Maddon said. “The symptoms are lessening a bit. … We had a nice conversation. My thought to him was, ‘Your job right now is to get well. Once you’re well, we’ll decide on the next step.’”

was out of the lineup after taking a foul ball off his right knee on Tuesday.

“I think he’s going to be OK,” Maddon said.

A day of remembrance

The Cubs participated in Major League Baseball’s tradition of honoring the victims and those impacted by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Players, coaches and umpires wore 9/11 ribbon patches on their caps at Petco Park and throughout the Majors on Wednesday.

Bases featured “We Shall Not Forget” jewels, and a moment of silence was observed before the game.