Cubs hire Carter Hawkins as general manager

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs hired Carter Hawkins as general manager, dipping into Cleveland’s front office in an effort to bolster their own player development system.

The 37-year-old Hawkins spent 14 seasons with Cleveland, including the last five as an assistant general manager. He also supervised the team’s player development department.

While Chicago has struggled when it comes to turning its pitching prospects into successful major leaguers, Cleveland has flourished.

It selected Shane Bieber in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft, and the right-hander won the AL Cy Young Award last year. Aaron Civale, a third-rounder in 2016, went 12-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 21 starts this season. Zach Plesac and Triston McKenzie also have had some positive moments.

The Cubs plan to formally introduce Hawkins as the franchise’s 16th general manager at a news conference on Monday.

“I am thrilled to bring Carter into our organization,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said in a release. “He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility and intelligence. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building.”

Hoyer had been looking for a GM since he was promoted to the top spot almost a year ago, replacing Theo Epstein. Hoyer put off the search after it was hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hoyer and Hawkins are looking to rebuild Chicago after it went 71-91 this season, the club’s worst record since it went 66-96 in 2013. It had a string of six consecutive winning seasons before faltering this year.

Longtime stars Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were traded away in July.

Pitching likely will be the team’s top priority over the winter. The Cubs had a 4.87 team ERA in 2021, ranking 27th in the majors.

In a letter emailed to fans on Friday, owner Tom Ricketts said the team made important changes this year “that put us in a position to succeed as we build the next great Cubs team.”

“Beginning to replenish our much-improved farm system was just the start,” Ricketts wrote. “Jed and the team are now focused on reloading our roster. We have the resources necessary to compete in 2022 and beyond, and we will use them. We will be active in free agency and continue to make thoughtful decisions to bolster our team this offseason.”

Hawkins was a four-year letter winner as a catcher for Vanderbilt, graduating in 2007 with a degree in human and organizational development. He got his start with Cleveland as an advance scouting intern.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

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SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.