New Scouting Leadership Structure Coming For Cubs

"It's important to continue to modernize," Theo Epstein says.

Bruce Levine
September 12, 2019 - 2:14 pm
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(670 The Score) What was once the top farm system in baseball has fallen to great depths. 

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After great success in drafting prospects and developing them and other youngsters acquired in trades, the Cubs have hit a wall in that department in recent years. Some of that can be explained as the fallout of trading away young talent for established MLB players in a championship window that included a 2016 title. Some of it can't be explained by that dynamic.

Its with that in mind that the Cubs shifted executive Jason McLeod into a new role Wednesday. In what president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called a "lateral move," McLeod transitioned into the senior vice president of player personnel position after overseeing the amateur scouting and player development departments for eight years.

Related: Bernstein: Cubs' front office trying to keep up

Epstein indicated the Cubs may split up the amateur scouting and minor league development roles. The job search will include internal and external candidates, Epstein said on 670 The Score on Thursday morning.  

Internal candidates for the new jobs include Jeff Greenberg (director of pro scouting and baseball operations), Matt Dorey (director of amateur scouting), Lukas McKnight (assistant director of amateur scouting), Jaron Madison (director of player development) and Andrew Bassett (assistant director of pro scouting).

The primary failure of the Cubs' farm system has been an inability to develop young pitching talent with impact ability at the big league level. McLeod's shift is a signal that the Cubs know they have to make changes moving forward to fix that problem that's plagued them.

"That was a lateral move for Jason that I felt was good for the organization and good for him too," Epstein said on the Mully & Haugh Show. "Really, this is about the organization and getting some fresh perspectives and some change. Jason is a great baseball guy and a fresh set of eyes (in focusing on the day-to-day operations of the big league team). He will give us a new perspective by being around the team more.

"This also allows for a fresh set of eyes and perspectives in scouting and player development. We have accomplished a lot in those areas, but there are clearly areas we can do better. This is the time of year you make adjustments in those areas, and we are taking a fresh look at every part of the organization."

Epstein was introspective in discussing the topics.

"We will make some adjustments to the leadership structure," Epstein said. "The goal will be to preserve what we have done best and continue to enhance those strengths and look to address our weaknesses. 

"We rebuilt these departments eight years ago and obviously it has continued to grow and adjust, but the player development landscape is changing more rapidly than it ever has, as long as I've been in the game. It's a generation of technology or MOs turning over sort of every six months to a year these days. So it's important to continue to modernize and fully embracing that. If you just keep the same exact structures and the same exact relationships and the same exact systems that you're had for eight years, it's impossible to modernize even if you think you are. So getting a fresh look, certainly looking at some people outside the organization as well, some really strong internal candidates that we have just to adjust our leadership structure to reflect the values and modernization inside a rapidly changing game."

McLeod was credited with drafting and helping develop first-round picks in outfielder Albert Almora Jr. (2012), third baseman Kris Bryant (2013), outfielder Kyle Schwarber (2014) and infielder/outfielder Ian Happ (2015). The drafting of position players that high was a big reason the Cubs focused on adding pitching via free agency and trades, but the team still lacked in developing arms. The team's Opening Day roster didn't have a homegrown pitcher on it this season.

The Cubs also traded away some of their best young talent that McLeod was instrumental in finding and developing. They traded infielder Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman in 2016, a move that helped Chicago win the title and provided New York with a player who has already been an All-Star in each of his first two MLB seasons. Ahead of the 2017 season, the Cubs traded outfielder Jorge Soler for closer Wade Davis, who played a key role on a division winner and team that advanced to the National League Championship Series. After some struggles, Soler has broken out with 43 homers this season. 

And of course, the Cubs also dealt touted prospects in outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease to the White Sox for left-hander Jose Quintana in July 2017. Jimenez and Cease have had their struggles but also flashed their potential as two core pieces of the White Sox's rebuild.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.