By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The timing of the firing of Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik caught some baseball insiders off guard. The Mariners, picked in many offseason prognostication sites to win the American League West, were one of the biggest disappointments – if not the biggest — in the game this season.
After seven seasons, Zduriencik had two teams finish over .500 and zero playoff appearances. A solid baseball man with a tremendous scouting and development background, Zduriencik will land on his feet elsewhere.
Meanwhile, three prominent baseball executives with Chicago ties will be on the list of candidates to assume the Seattle job. Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry; current Cubs vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod and White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams could be on that short list.
Sources confirmed the Mariners’ quick move to relieve Zduriencik means ownership wants a new baseball man to be in place before the season ends. The team is looking for previous GM experience, which may favor Hendry and Williams. McLeod is a hot candidate due to the rapid ascension of the young power hitters in the Cubs’ lineup, which has four rookies starting every day when Jorge Soler is healthy.
Williams may not be made available or want to leave the White Sox for a job that’s under his present status as top baseball executive on the South Side. Some indications are the job will be a GM position and not president of baseball operations, though that part of the job description still isn’t known.
Hendry was courted by the Mariners in the fall of 2008. His Cubs teams had gone to the playoffs during back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008. That was the first time in 100 years that the Cubs franchise had back-to-back appearances in the playoffs. While Hendry was being courted, the team’s ownership gave him a four-year deal to keep him in Chicago.
Hendry was fired in late summer of 2011 and was replaced by Theo Epstein that fall. A 58-year-old Florida native, Hendry has been a top advisor to Yankee vice president of baseball operations Brian Cashman since leaving the Cubs.
Some baseball executives have been backing Hendry for the GM job that’s open with the Los Angeles Angels. A few have called Angels owner Artie Moreno on his behalf.
McLeod has stated he’s happy being the third-highest ranking Cubs front-office official. He turned down inquiries about his interest in the San Diego Padres job when it opened in summer 2014.
Hendry’s the only Cubs baseball executive to take a Cubs team to the playoffs on three different occasions since 1910.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.