Expect White Sox vice president and assistant general manager Rick Hahn to be a top candidate to become the Cubs' next general manager this offseason.
Jim Hendry never was a numbers guy. He was a scout, which certainly has its advantages. But at the end of the day, that scout made quite a few questionable moves -- beyond the Alfonso Soriano contract -- that perhaps could've been prevented with better statistical analysis.
And that's where Hahn comes in. He's not a complete numbers guy -- which is good -- but he has a much better balance between scouting and statistics in his analysis and decision-making than Hendry.
But, if the Cubs decide to target Hahn, the next question is this -- would he actually leave the White Sox?
Going back to an article written by Will Carroll (with the help of friend of Beerleaguer Dan Wade) last month in which Hahn topped the list of the best MLB GM candidates, the Cubs would seem like the perfect opportunity for him to leave.
Hahn hasn't pushed to depart Chicago for a GM role despite being a candidate for gigs with the Padres, Mets and Pirates, among others. Maybe it's because he's settled in Chicago and put down roots. If that's the case, then the Cubs would be a perfect opportunity to remove that "assistant" tag from his title and officially take the reigns of an MLB club.
The Cubs certainly have a deep hole to dig out of to get back to contending in the National League, and there isn't an overnight fix. Starlin Castro is a phenomenal asset, and prospects Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur could be important pieces down the road. But beyond those guys, Matt Garza and *maybe* Andrew Cashner, the Cubs don't have much in the way of surplus value for the future.
They're probably not going to win in 2012, although with a nice chunk of money coming off the books for 2013, that could be a year the North Siders target to make a few shrewd moves and pull back into the NL Central race. Hahn would be a fantastic candidate to pull off whatever moves are necessary to get the Cubs back to relevancy in a short timeframe.
Of course, there are two hitches to Hahn jumping from the Sox to Cubs. The first would be Hahn's high regard and importance in the White Sox front office. He's much closer to being a co-GM with Kenny Williams than his assistant role lets on, and a possibility certainly exists that Hahn will stick with the White Sox and officially take over as the general manager when Williams decides to step down or is forced out of his position.
The second hitch would be if Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney see their organization going the rebuilding route. Ricketts has already pledged truckloads of money to be used for signing draft picks, which could signal a rebuilding project.
But the Cubs aren't the Royals, they aren't the Rays. Ricketts doesn't have the near-unlimited funds of the team's previous ownership, but he does have enough to maintain a competitive team on the field while re-stocking a lacking farm system.
The best route for the Cubs to go is to spend a significant amount on the draft while still working to trot out a competitive team at Wrigley Field. Hahn's history of making shrewd signings that lead to high levels of surplus value would make him the perfect fit to do just that.