Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins, Chicago Cubs
Division rank: second
MLB rank: 13th
The 2022 season was basically on open tryout on Chicago’s North Side, where Hoyer and Hawkins amassed an imposing 66 personnel transactions involving MLB talent. That’s more than one move every three days. No other major league front office ran through as many warm bodies.
Whether any of those warm bodies eventually lock in as part of the Cubs’ restoration to contention remains to be seen.
Statistically, the Cubs were pretty good for a club that lost 88 games. Thirty-eight of those 66 personnel moves involved either fringe free agents or rookies being field tested. The Cubs used free agency as a low-risk method of roster-filling. Jonathan Villar was brought in to fill a perceived middle infield need. Villar bombed and was quickly jettisoned. Sean Newcomb came over from Atlanta in a trade for Jesse Chavez, washed out in 17 games and was dumped.
The one Hoyer-Hawkins signing that paid off involved Marcus Stroman, a free agent who made 25 starts with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.3 WAA.
Stroman’s signing was the feather in a free agent season that ranked seventh for net impact among all major league teams. The Cubs ranked 11th for net trade impact.
The Cubs were only 23rd for net rookie impact, and long-term that will be the interesting area to watch. Hoyer and Hawkins used 19 first-timers in 2022, the names including Christopher Morel, Caleb Kilian, Keegan Thompson, Julian Assad, Brandon Hughes, Alfonso Rivas and Michael Rucker. (That doesn’t count Seiya Suzuki, a Japanese free agent who was not a system product.)
Collectively that group cost the Cubs -2.9 games of WAA in 2022, but that figure is largely irrelevant. The relevant figure is what, if anything, that same group will do in 2023 and going forward.