The Rundown: Cubs Finalizing GM Search, Focus on Pitching Grows Clearer, Sox Could Trade Kimbrel, Winner-Take-All in NLDS

With no playoff baseball yesterday and the impending end of the current collective bargaining agreement just seven weeks away, there wasn’t a whole lot of news across the sport. Except in Chicago, where the Cubs appear to have found their new GM in Carter Hawkins. Though it may not be officially announced for a while yet, the 37-year-old former Cleveland AGM is reportedly finalizing his deal.

Among the other finalists were James Harris, who also worked in Cleveland’s front office, Rays’ director of player development and international scouting Carlos Rodriguez, and Twins AGM Jeremy Zoll. Those names were listed in a previous report by Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney, while Britt Ghiroli’s byline was on the piece about Hawkins getting the gig.

Hawkins got his start as an advance scouting intern in 2008 and spent two years in player development starting in 2014 before moving to his current position of assistant general manager. Pitchers Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer reached their peaks during that time and Hawkins was instrumental in drafting and/or developing the likes of Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Triston McKenzie, and Aaron Civale.

Daniel Espino, Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2019, is on the come as well and could be the best of that group. In fact, Cleveland has gone pitcher-heavy in the early rounds of their past five drafts, in case you are looking toward next July. The Cubs hold the No. 7 overall pick in next year’s draft of what is said to be a very loaded pool of available talent.

The exact order beyond the first round won’t be officially determined until any compensatory picks and the competitive balance rounds have been decided, some of which may be dependent on the next CBA. The Cubs will likely have three of the first 100 selections, an enticing prospect for Hawkins and VP of scouting Dan Katrovitz.

The Cubs’ big flaw during their championship core years, and it was a glaring one, was a lack of developing pitchers. Since Theo Epstein took over the team in 2012, Chicago’s best pitchers have come either from the open market or via trade. Because of the costs associated with buying starters, which Hoyer and Hawkins will undoubtedly be doing this winter, it makes really good financial sense to focus on internal development. Sorry if I sounded like Wilford Brimley there.

The Cubs have several young pitchers who may benefit from Hawkins’ expertise, namely Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay, Keegan Thompson, and Brailyn Marquez. DJ Herz, Jordan Wicks, and Caleb Kilian are starters in the pipeline who could be fast-tracked to the bigs, too.

Hawkins will also have to replace Anthony Iapoce and Mike Borzello, and I’m sure he’ll work with Hoyer on an extension for David Ross. He’ll also enter free agency with (we hope) a fair bit of money to spend, so he should be able to target the players best suited to get the Cubs back to playing competitive baseball.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

When you can help turn a middling outfielder into a hard-throwing reliever armed with a 100 mph fastball, you know a thing or two about developing pitchers. Welcome to Chicago, Carter Hawkins.

Odds & Sods

The King could have been the next Barry Foote had he stuck with it.

From the Front Office

“You need power pitching, you need power arms to win in today’s game. You need to be able to miss bats, there’s no question about that. Our pitching fell short and a significant part of that is we didn’t strike enough guys out, we didn’t miss enough bats, we put too much pressure on our defense. We do need to get more power arms. That’s something we’re actively developing in the minors and I feel good about the progress there.” – Hoyer

Postseason News & Notes

Logan Webb, who struck out 10 Dodgers batters in Game 1 of the NLCS, will get the start for the Giants tonight, becoming the youngest pitcher to start a winner-take-all game in club history.

Max Scherzer won’t get the start for the Dodgers tonight, but he could be available to pitch in relief.

Luis Urías will get the pivotal start for Los Angeles.

How About That!

The Arizona Fall League is back after a one-year hiatus and some of baseball’s top prospects are off to very good starts.

Bleacher Report lists the best and worst landing spots for the winter’s top five free agents.

Rumors are circulating that the White Sox will exercise the $16 million option they hold on Craig Kimbrel and then try to trade him. If so, the Mets might be interested.

The singular uniqueness of Shohei Ohtani should win him AL MVP honors.

The Padres could be interested in Anthony Rizzo this winter. They’ll have to move Eric Hosmer, but they did try to trade for the former Cubs first baseman at the trade deadline.

Extra Innings

Farewell godspeed, and super sky point to Ray Fosse.

They Said It

  • “Obviously, I’m focused on winning a championship with the Astros. But I’ve heard a lot of players talk about how great it is to play at Wrigley Field. And I’ve never gotten to play there at the major-league level yet. Actually, a lot of players say it’s the best stadium to play at. When they traded everybody, and then you look at a couple of games after that, it was still sold out. I was, like, these fans are great. So yeah.” – Correa

Thursday Walk-Up Song

Welcome to the Jungle by Guns ‘N’ Roses – Let’s light this candle, Mr. Hawkins

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