Already faced with challenges of scouting and developing players in the wake of sweeping cuts to baseball operations, the Cubs could be forced to replace the man they hired less than a year ago to revamp their player evaluation process. According to a tweet from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, the Angels have reached out to the Cubs for permission to speak with VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz about possibly replacing deposed GM Billy Eppler.
This is far from a sure bet and isn’t expected to be concluded quickly, as the Angels are “getting a large list together” and have set Thanksgiving as a soft target for their new hire(s). The possibility exists that the Halos will restructure their front office to more closely resemble the Cubs and other teams by hiring both a GM and a president of baseball operations, which could increase the possibility of Kantrovitz leaving.
Such an outcome would deal a significant blow to the Cubs’ future plans, since getting Kantrovitz was view as quite a coup for their scouting department. He had just finished his fifth seasons as an assistant GM for the A’s, prior to which he served as director of scouting for the the Cardinals from 2012-14. Kantrovitz was largely responsible for a number of excellent picks by those teams and his first Cubs draft is widely viewed as a success.
Beyond just his acumen, the Cubs want to have as much continuity as possible amid the upheaval that will continue to take place throughout the offseason. Several scouts have already been let go and that facet of the organization is reportedly shifting to a more video-based approach, something Kantrovitz had to embrace out of necessity in 2020. Bringing in someone who might have to learn from scratch would be less than ideal, as would piling additional duties onto another exec’s plate.
This stuff won’t make the same waves as player-based offseason news, nor should it, but the potential impact on the organization could be just as big over time. The Cubs have been notoriously bad at identifying and developing pitchers and they’ve got almost as bad a track record when it comes to position players who weren’t taken in the first round. Facing financial uncertainty with very few players under contract beyond next season means they’ve got to find a way to build from within.
Maybe this will amount to nothing and Kantrovitz will remain in Chicago…at least until next season when he becomes an even hotter commodity. But hey, that means he’ll have had another year to impart his philosophy and knowledge to those around him.
Is it getting really obvious that I sense an inexorable wave of doom this winter? Probably just a defense mechanism so I can feel better about what eventually happens.
Update: Kantrovitz declined the Angels’ overtures and will continue in his role with the Cubs. You have to believe the potential to be hamstrung by a meddling owner may have played a role, though it’s also possible he sees Theo Epstein’s imminent departure as a us in a way.
Source: Cubs VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz was contacted about an interview for the Angels top baseball ops job, but he's decided to not pursue that opportunity at this time. He'll remain with the Cubs for at least the 2021 season.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) October 29, 2020