Dan Evans the perfect fit for Cubs GM job
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 25, 2011 9:48PM
Dan Evans (right) helped rebuild the Los Angeles Dodgers during his three-year tenure as GM. | M. Spencer Green~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts says he wants his new general manager to have a successful track record as a GM. He also says he’s open to considering promising assistant GMs like the guy on the other side of town getting so much support from local speculation artists.
But what if Ricketts could combine the two? What if he could get that rising-star local guy with the second-nature understanding of this market’s history and challenges — while also getting a guy who successfully rebuilt a major-market front office and farm system?
Then he’d be getting Dan Evans.
Never mind that a decade-old Chicago baseball wrong could be righted in the process, Evans fits all the criteria Ricketts laid out when he announced the firing of Jim Hendry last week — down to a background in advanced-metrics analysis.
Obviously, it’s been awhile since Evans was the rising-star assistant GM for the White Sox that Rick Hahn has become today.
But since an ugly split from the Sox after he was left out of the loop on Kenny Williams’ ascension to GM past him in 2000, Evans went on to a three-season run as GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He rebuilt and restocked a front office and farm system left lagging and depleted under Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp ownership.
Evans, 51, declined to be interviewed for this story. And it’s unclear where he stands on Ricketts’ early list of potential candidates that is known to include Tampa Bay’s Andrew Friedman, the New York Yankees’ Brian Cashman and the Dodgers’ current GM, Ned Colletti (like Evans, a Chicago native).
But friends and associates of Evans — a Lane Tech and DePaul grad who grew up near Wrigley Field — say he has always considered the Cubs’ GM position his dream job.
And while he has spent the last few years on the other side of the business as a player agent, those close to him expect him to look into the vacancy.
He could emerge as a serious candidate, given his track record, vision and Ricketts’ criteria.
Even several years later, as the divorce of Murdoch’s successors, Frank and Jamie McCourt, began to have an impact on the Dodgers’ baseball and business operations early last year, the Los Angeles Times called Evans:
‘‘An unsung hero to the Dodgers’ success the last few years, a nearly forgotten figure. . . . A man who built the core of this current team, but who was discarded before his work bore fruit. . . . Time to give Dan Evans his due.’’
The McCourts swept Evans out almost as soon as they took over, hiring Moneyball figure Paul DePodesta for a failed 20-month reign.
By then, Evans’ revamped operation had drafted such core players as James Loney, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin and Jonathan Broxton and converted outfield prospect Edwin Jackson into a pitcher.
By 2009, five of those players helped the Dodgers win 95 games and reach the National League Championship Series for a second straight year. The sixth, Jackson, pitched in a World Series for Tampa Bay in ’08, became an All-Star in ’09 and threw a no-hitter last season.
The Dodgers’ farm system was ranked among the worst in baseball by most publications when he took over and among the top 10 when he left.
Evans went on to work with the Seattle Mariners as a special assistant to the GM after his stint with the Dodgers before joining former pitcher Bret Saberhagen in running an L.A.-area sports agency. He has since left to start his own agency.
Between the Sox and Dodgers, he also worked briefly for the Cubs under then-president/GM Andy MacPhail.