2019 MLB Season: Rating the NL Central general managers

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer speak Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 as the team reports to spring training in Mesa, Ariz (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer speak Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 as the team reports to spring training in Mesa, Ariz (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2019 MLB Season: The NL Central’s best GM

Jed Hoyer (and Theo Epstein), Chicago Cubs

In Chicago, Hoyer and Epstein have generally operated on the principle that no problem is too large that it can’t be solved by the application of large amounts of either money or prospects. By that standard did youngsters of the stripe of Gleyber Torres, Jorge Soler and Eloy Jimenez depart, and by that standard did reputation-laden veterans such as Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman arrive.

That the Cubs failed to make post-season play despite operating with the National League’s largest payroll is confirmation that strategies of that sort don’t always work.

Kimbrel was the 2019 MLB season poster child, thanks to the four-year, $58 million deal he signed in June. The reality was that the harder Hoyer and Epstein tried this season, the worse things seemed to get. They spent most of the season consigning once-vaunted prospects to Triple-A Iowa: Ian Happ started there, while Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr., and David Bote all met the bus at one point or another. It was not that long ago that those four were collectively envisioned as the heart of a 2019 powerhouse on the North Side.

The deadline trade for Nick Castellanos did work. Grateful to be exiled from Detroit, Castellanos delivered 21 doubles, 16 home runs and a .31 batting average in what amounted to an extended salary drive. He is now a free agent.

Chicago’s 2019 rookie crop was nothing special, saved from sub-mediocrity only by the September callup of Nico Hoerner when Javier Baez was injured. Of the seven first-year Cubs in the 2019 MLB season, not once played a significant role.

Short-term acquisitions: +0.8

Short-term trade losses: +1.3

Short-term free agent signings: -1.7

Short-term free agent losses: 0.0

Short-term rookie production: -0.8

Short-term total: -0.4