MLB: Rating the front offices of the NL Central

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs

Theo Epstein, president of baseball ops; Jed Hoyer, GM: +1.5

The Epstein-Hoyer team made 39 personnel moves affecting the Cubs short-term abilities since the conclusion of the 2019 season. Virtually all of them, however, had a marginal impact.

In fact, you could attribute nearly 100 percent of Chicago’s statistical improvement this year to a single, very simple decision. Back in March of 2019, they extended Kyle Hendricks, the team’s most reliable starter, for four seasons at $55.5 million starting in 2020.

Hendricks responded as he always does, with a 2.88 ERA in a dozen starts and a +1.2 Wins Above Average.

Having accomplished that, Epstein-Hoyer shifted into neutral and hoped for the best. Of those 39 moves, 17 produced negative impact, none of them more impactful than the departure of free agent Brandon Kintzler. He went to Miami and produced +0.8 WAA for the Marlins. Ironically, it was Kintzler on the mound to close out the Marlins’ wild card series victory over the Cubs last week.

Epstein-Hoyer acquired six players prior to or during the season in trades with other teams, and they went zero-for-six. Their interchange with DH Jose Martinez illustrates the problems. Obtained from Tampa in late August, Martinez went hitless in 21 official at-bats, hanging a -0.7 WAA on his bosses’ record.

Here is the annual short-term performance rating of the Cubs front office since 2016:

  • 2016:     +11.9
  • 2017:     +  9.0*
  • 2018:     +  2.0
  • 2019:     –   1.2
  • 2020:     +  1.5

*This was a greater improvement than the margin by which the Cubs qualified for post-season play.