Cubs searching for GM from outside the club

Hoyer finds value in 'fresh ideas'; Valaika named asst. hitting coach

November 23rd, 2020

CHICAGO -- Jed Hoyer spent the past nine years as the general manager under Theo Epstein with the Cubs, continuing a front-office partnership that dates back to their days with the Red Sox. Now, Hoyer is looking for a new counterpart.

On Monday, when Hoyer finalized a five-year extension as the Cubs' new president of baseball operations, he made it known that he will be searching for a new general manager from outside the organization. There will be internal promotions as part of the front-office restructuring, but Hoyer wants a GM with some fresh eyes and thoughts.

"I really do value fresh ideas and new ideas. I think that's important," Hoyer said. "As I mentioned, continuity's a wonderful thing, but I think sometimes bringing some people in from the outside can really [be a] benefit. So I will be doing a search for the general manager."

Hoyer acknowledged that bringing a new person into the fold right now comes with a set of different challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that, the Cubs' new front-office leader said there is no timetable for his search, as he wants to have patience in picking the right person and respecting other aspects of the process.

Hoyer said he wants his GM to be someone who is unafraid to challenge him on decisions.

"I think that that's part of the beauty of going outside the organization," Hoyer said. "I kind of encourage that and I think, for me, the most important thing I'm going to be trying to find is a sense of trust. That's probably part of the relationship with Theo that I value on top of everything else, is that these are high-pressure jobs and you make a lot of tough decisions, and things are going to go wrong. And I think you have to know that that person is with you 100 percent and that there's no dividing the two of you.

"You guys have no idea which decisions I was in favor of or Theo was in favor of. And I think we made that a really concerted effort over the last nine years -- that we were in this together and we would go forward together. And we wouldn't talk about who was in favor of what or whose idea a trade was.

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"To me, that's critically important in these roles. I want all of the input I can possibly get, and I want differing opinions, but ultimately, when we go forward, we have to go forward as one."

Valaika joins MLB coaching staff
Hoyer announced Monday that the Cubs have hired Chris Valaika to be their new Major League assistant hitting coach, filling one of two vacancies on manager David Ross' staff.

"He's wonderful," Hoyer said. "We couldn't be more excited about Val."

Valaika, who replaces Terrmel Sledge and will work alongside hitting coach Anthony Iapoce, has spent the past four seasons as a coach in Chicago's system. He was the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator for the past two seasons, following coaching stints with Triple-A Iowa (2018) and Rookie-level Mesa ('17).

Valaika also played briefly for the Cubs, spending time in Iowa in 2014-15 and appearing in 44 big leagues games for the North Siders in '14.

The Cubs are still looking for a new third-base coach and outfield instructor after the departure of Will Venable, who become the new bench coach for the Red Sox. Hoyer said the organization has had some internal discussions about that job and will likely start a search process in "the next week or so."

Worth noting
• Wrigley Field was recently designated as a National Historic Landmark by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts noted, however, that the tax benefits that come with that decision will not currently impact the team's baseball payroll.

"Unfortunately, no," Ricketts said, "the historic tax credits will not have an impact in any way on our baseball budget. It was all part of the stadium re-design financing plan that has played out for the last seven years, and it doesn't have any current impact for us. So I wish I could get tax credits and give them to baseball players, but I can't."

• Hoyer was unwilling to speculate on any individual players, but the president of baseball operations did note that there are no extension talks happening right now with anyone on Chicago's roster.

"We have none ongoing right now," Hoyer said. "But certainly, we have players on this roster that we'd love to have here for a long time. So, at some point in the future, I think we'll probably pick those up. But right now, there's nothing ongoing."

Quotable
"Was I prepared 11 years ago? I was. But am I far better to lead this organization now? Yeah, of course I am, because I think I've really paid attention for the last nine years since I've been here, and I really feel like I've grown as a leader, as a person. And so I'm excited to move forward with that knowledge I've gained." -- Hoyer, on leading the Cubs now vs. the Padres' front office in 2009-11