Like a predecessor, John Holland, Saltwell had been a general manager in the minor leagues. He was the GM with minor league affiliates in Des Moines, Iowa, and Los Angeles. Saltwell came to Chicago in 1958 as a business manager. He was very loyal to owner Philip K. Wrigley and was made a vice president in 1972. The Chicago Tribune openly mocked the move and called Saltwell a hot dog vendor. Wrigley defended the decision by stating that Saltwell had the capacity to get rough, especially in contract negotiations. After his one season as Cubs' GM, on November 24, 1976, he was named secretary and director of park operations while field manager Jim Marshall was fired.
Saltwell was criticized for many questionable transactions. His first transaction was on October 28, 1975, when he traded shortstop Don Kessinger to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Mike Garman. He was the last player from the 1969 Cubs team. A challenge for Saltwell was that the fall of 1975 ushered in the era of free agency. Pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally successfully challenged a portion of the MLB Reserve clause.
Saltwell also traded Andre Thornton to the Montreal Expos. In the spring of 1976, Thornton complained about the Cubs' spring training facilities, and feuded with José Cardenal. He was labelled as a troublemaker. On May 17, Saltwell made a deal with the Expos, and it was highly criticized by fans and media alike. In the draft, Saltwell did not have better luck. Under Saltwell, the Cubs selected pitcher Herman Segelke in the first round of the June draft.
In September 1976, Saltwell was confronted by pitcher Steve Stone. Stone had informed Saltwell of his impending free agency and attempted to get a contract. Saltwell responded by telling Stone that Mr. Wrigley was in the middle of a divorce and he would have to get back to him. Stone opted to leave the Cubs.
One of the trades that was criticized was made on February 11, 1977. The Cubs traded third baseman Bill Madlock and infielder Rob Sperring to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Bobby Murcer, third baseman Steve Ontiveros and pitcher Andy Muhlstock. Madlock was a two-time defending batting champion who had hit .354 and .339 over the previous two seasons. Saltwell wanted more power and acquired Murcer. After smashing 27 home runs in 1977 with the Cubs, Murcer hit just nine in 1978 and was traded to his original team, the New York Yankees.
|1976||Chicago Cubs||Vice President / General Manager
(Hired 9/30/75; Reassigned 11/24/76)|| General Manager
|1984||Chicago Cubs||Special Assistant Executive V.P. and V.P., Business Operations||Special Assistant to the GM|
|1985||Chicago Cubs||Special Assistant Executive V.P. and V.P., Business Operations||Special Assistant to the GM|
|1986||Chicago Cubs||Vice President||Special Assistant to the GM|
- "Saltwell Joins Cubs as GM", San Mateo Times, November 5, 1957
- "Salty Saltwell, director of Wrigley Field park operations, celebrated his 57th birthday Tuesday.", Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1981
- The Cubs, by Glenn Stout, Richard A. Johnson, Dick Johnson, p.302, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers, 2007, ISBN 978-0-618-59500-6
- Don Kessinger at Baseball-Reference
- The Cubs, by Glenn Stout, Richard A. Johnson, Dick Johnson, p.303, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers, 2007, ISBN 978-0-618-59500-6
- Game of My Life, Chicago Cubs: Memorable Stories of Baseball, p. 175, Lew Freedman, Sports Publishing LLC, 2007, ISBN 978-1-59670-173-1
|Chicago Cubs General Manager