The Cubs are entering what will be a busy offseason of roster reconstruction, but the first thing on team president Jed Hoyer's priority list after the 2021 season ended was hiring a general manager.
That process is complete. The Cubs announced Friday they've hired Cleveland assistant GM Carter Hawkins for their top job.
“I am thrilled to bring Carter into our organization,” Hoyer said in a statement. “He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility and intelligence.
"I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building. I look forward to partnering with him to build the next great Cubs team.”
That process begins in earnest in a few weeks, when the MLB offseason officially begins after the conclusion of the World Series.
Here's a few things on the initial offseason to-do-list now facing Hawkins and the rest of the Cubs front office.
The Cubs have two openings on their coaching staff after moving on from Anthony Iapoce and Mike Borzello. Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference he expected to conduct a search for Iapoce’s vacated hitting coach position while seeming to indicate assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika would not be promoted to the top job.
Borzello’s position — associate pitching, catching and strategy coach — was more unique in nature. The Cubs could hire someone new for that role or fill the staff opening in a different way.
Hawkins has a quick turnaround to the first major event on the offseason calendar, the GM Meetings, which are back this fall after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
Team executives and agents will descend on Carlsbad, Calif. in early November to kick-off the offseason calendar in which clubs lay groundwork for potential offseason transactions.
The Cubs have six players eligible for arbitration this offseason — and therefore six decisions to make on whether they will tender those players contracts for 2022.
The deadline for those decisions typically lands between the GM Meetings in November and Winter Meetings in December.
Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Rex Brothers, Adam Morgan, Jonathan Holder and Joe Biagini are the arbitration-eligible Cubs. Last winter, the Cubs non-tendered Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber.
This may fall further down the offseason timeline, but pitching is the top thing on Hoyer and Hawkins' priority list. You can't overstate how much pitching — specifically starting pitching — the Cubs need this winter compared to previous winters.
“We need to dramatically improve our pitching,” Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference. “I don't think there's any question about that.
“Our starting rotation simply wasn't good enough this year to compete.”
Hawkins comes from a Cleveland organization with a strong track record of developing homegrown pitching, but he and Hoyer will have to look outside the organization this winter for rotation help.