Chicago Cubs General Manager Carter Hawkins has not been all that visible over his first year in the organization, but I doubt that means he isn’t doing a whole lot behind the scenes.
Hawkins was brought in to serve under President Jed Hoyer, bringing along with him years of expertise working in a Cleveland organization that was exceptionally strong at scouting and player development. You hope that a lot of what we’ve seen this year in the farm system for the Cubs will continue in the years ahead, and that Hawkins will have played a part in that – because that would mean it is all the more likely to be sustainable.
For his part, Hawkins hopped on ‘Cubs Live!’ on Marquee to talk about the season that was and the offseason ahead
Paraphrasing some of the points he made, and some thoughts of my own…
- Hawkins clarified a bit of what Jed Hoyer meant by “intelligent spending,” and it tracks with exactly what we discussed yesterday. You *want to* improve your team for next year. That’s the key. But you at least have to also think about the extent to which that improvement now could harm you down the road. In other words, again, I don’t see any reason to believe the Cubs are saying they won’t consider big deals this offseason. It just means they will be mindful of the impact sooner versus the impact later, and try to find the right balance. Sometimes, a big-money, long-term deal projects to age well and it feels “intelligent” in all ways.
- When you can build up your farm system AND spend some money in free agency, that’s when you can be competitive year after year for a long time. That, too, ties to the idea of ”intelligent spending,” according to Hawkins, because you don’t want your spending now to hurt your ability to spend in the future, too.
- Character matters when bringing players into your organization and it’s a factor for the Cubs, but it’s not like the Cubs are looking for “choir boys.” The best version of character, according to Hawkins, is when you bring in a guy and he folds into the culture and character that already exists in the building (which, for Hawkins and the current Cubs, they want the focus to just be on doing everything to help the team win).
- Hawkins says he’s been in clubhouses before where the team was out of it in the second half, and it simply didn’t have the same energy or focus on winning that the Cubs clubhouse had in the second half. Here’s hoping that matters go forward!
- The decision-making process internally is a lot of conversations, a lot of arguing back and forth, but Hawkins couldn’t immediately think of a significant decision over the past year on which he and Hoyer weren’t ultimately aligned when it came down to it.
- Hawkins is not particularly focused on pitching development in terms of his day-to-day role, because he has his hand in everything else, too. The pitching infrastructure work with the Cubs started three years ago, before Hawkins arrived, and he spent a lot of this year learning how he can help. “It’s never just one person,” in terms of the success Hawkins and the Indians/Guardians had with pitching in Cleveland. In other words, he didn’t want to take any credit for improvements on that side over the past year, but he does hope his impact can be felt over the next few years.
- Hawkins echoed Hoyer’s comments on Willson Contreras, and suggested that there will still be conversations even after the Qualifying Offer process plays out. I tend to think that’s just a general truism – the Cubs aren’t going to publicly close the door on a reunion – rather than any kind of revelation that the Cubs are going to work hard to bring him back. No one seems to think that’s likely.