Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has added his No. 2 and No. 3 front office executives with former Padres general manager Jed Hoyer leaving to become the executive vice president/GM with the Cubs and scouting guru Jason McLeod assuming the role of vice president of scouting and player development.
This significant restructuring of the front office leaves the power bases of vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita and scouting director Tim Wilken in question. McLeod, Fleita and Wilken will all report to Epstein and Hoyer. Hoyer will handle much of the day-to-day operations for the team, including initiating trade talks and dealing with player agents.
It's interesting that Epstein in his press conference used the term "us" on every occasion referring to his inner circle that had not been named until now. Sources say McLeod's title will most likely put him in charge above Fleita and Wilken in the front office food chain. Fleita has been the head of minor leagues and Latin American signing and developing since Jim Hendry was named GM in 2002.
Wilken was hired by Hendry as scouting director in 2006 and has had autonomy in the six amateur drafts he has led. That may change significantly under McLeod, who was the scouting expert for Epstein in Boston before leaving to join Hoyer and become assistant GM with the Padres in December 2009.
McLeod has been given a lot of credit for the Red Sox's scouting and development over the past seven years.
Fleita was given a four-year contract by Ricketts in September to prevent the Detroit Tigers from luring him away with a four-year deal to run their minor league system. Fleita is the front man, along with Cubs director Todd Ricketts, for the team's new Dominican Republic complex.
According to sources, Ricketts told Fleita that he may be re-assigned by the new GM when he signed his new contract. Wilken, who had similar positions in Toronto and Tampa, has one year left on his contract. His No. 1 draft picks since 2006 have been outfielder Tyler Colvin (2006), third baseman Josh Vitters (2007), pitcher Andrew Cashner (2008), outfielder Brett Jackson (2009), pitcher Hayden Simpson (2010) and infielder Javier Baez (2011).