Don't count on quick end to GM search

CHICAGO -- If you’re looking for a quick end to the search for the next Chicago Cubs’ general manager, you may want to think again.

The process of hiring a replacement for former GM Jim Hendry will take until early November or beyond.

The reason is to give the Cubs the ability to talk to all possible candidates they may have interest in. Major League Baseball protocol doesn’t allow teams to reach out to employees who are under contract without written consent of their employer.

For example, if indeed the Cubs are interested in talking to Tampa’s Andrew Friedman, they would have to wait until after the season and then ask Tampa ownership for permission to talk to Friedman or wait until Friedman’s contract expires. Many teams in baseball have different timelines for expiration of contracts. Some are Sept. 30 or the end of the season. The Cubs’ date is Oct. 31, and some end on Dec. 31.

The Cubs’ Oct. 31 date creates problems for scouts, coaches, development people and the front office staff. These employees may not know who the new GM is until close or after their contracts expire.

Some of Hendry’s top advisers, such as interim GM Randy Bush and director of player personnel Oneiri Fleita and top adviser and scouting director Tim Wilken and top adviser Gary Hughes, David Littlefield, Stan Zalenski and Ken Kravec, have contracts through the 2012 season. Most of the rest of the organization does not.

Possible candidates such as New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be tied up in the playoffs until the end of October. The Cubs would have to wait until that time to even ask for permission to talk to him.

The team had the same situation last season when it was in the process of hiring a replacement for manager Lou Piniella. At that time, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was a viable candidate. The Cubs couldn’t even approach him until the Yankees were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

By then, Jim Hendry’s choice of Mike Quade almost was complete.

It was made clear by a major league source that the search for a new general manager would not be limited to someone who has been a GM at some point. That was an area that was unclear when chairman Tom Ricketts spoke on Friday.

Assistant GMs with winning track records will be considered.