The first thing that Tom Ricketts mentioned when asked what he was looking for in a replacement to GM Jim Hendry during today’s press conference was someone who’s strong in player development; he also said straight up that the Cubs won’t be looking at internal candidates. A great rundown is Baseball Prospectus’s July list of the most likely future general managers. Major League Baseball Trade Rumors has its own list, drawn from a front-office survey.
I’ve already seen Al Avila’s name floated; the Tigers’ veep/assistant GM has experience in Latin America and was a part of putting together the Marlins’ World Series-winning teams during a chaotic period for that team.
Another name on that list is a candidate who gets floated every time is someone with Chicago roots: Kim Ng, who was the assistant GM for the Dodgers (can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to work for them this year) before following Joe Torre to the commissioner’s office in March:
She said details of her responsibilities have not been fully formulated, but “there will be a lot of focus on the international operation and the Dominican Republic,” where MLB has embarked on an educational and enforcement campaign to clean up a number of issues, from forged birth certificates to performance-enhancing drugs.
Ng’s done a little bit of everything; her first real high-level experience in the front office, which began with the White Sox—she’s a University of Chicago grad who started as an intern—involved extensive work with salary arbitration. She made her bones going up against Scott Boras in Alex Fernandez’s arbitration at the tender age of 26, and she continued her arbitration work after moving to the New York Yankees. As such she’s developed a reputation for expertise in player value… and, above all their other problems, that’s been the Cubs’ sore spot in the past few years. As the Dodgers’ assistant GM, she also served as the player development. And all her experience in the front office has been with major-market teams.
In short, she’s young and has an analytical bent, but also has almost 20 years of experience, has been in the running for previous GM gigs (Seattle and San Diego), and has spent a lot of time on the business end of the game—and the Cubs will have a lot of money to spend in the near future. And despite her recent move to the commissioner’s office, she still wants a GM job.