The Rundown: Cubs Managerial Choice Still Unknown, Hamels Seeks Redemption, Yanks May Target Lindor

If you’re like me, or if you are simply hoping the Cubs will hire David Ross to fill the vacancy that was created when Joe Maddon was allowed to become a managerial free agent, you may feel like there is a minor disturbance in the force. If Ross was the clear cut favorite, he would have been hired by now, or at least that would seem to be a logical assumption.

But the World Series starts tonight, and because MLB likes its teams to put any big announcements on hold during its prestigious championship event, Cubs fans are left to wonder which candidate Theo Epstein and his front office entourage are going to choose. That has to bode well for Joe Espada, who was given a second interview by Cubs execs over the weekend. In addition to making a great impression in Chicago, Espada has quickly ascended to the top of candidate lists in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. And though Mark Kotsay appears to be the favorite with the Giants, the Pirates’ choice to fill their opening is anybody’s guess.

The possibility also exists that Ross isn’t as enamored with the opening as many may think. He’s got a pretty cushy gig with ESPN, which means he gets to spend a lot of time with his family, and he already works within the confines of Chicago’s front office. As I mentioned last week, he’s pretty tight with Epstein and Jed Hoyer, both of whom should be accountable for consecutive disappointing seasons. The tandem executives have just two years remaining on their contracts.

Mix in the fact that the Cubs front office was recently mentioned as one that could be overhauled after the 2020 season, and you have plenty of reasons to believe Grandpa Rossy might be a little hesitant to take control of that dugout.

No matter who the choice is, we won’t know until the end of the World Series at the earliest. In the meantime, speculation and rumor will drive the headlines in Chicago. Were I handicapping it, I’d say Espada is the new favorite.

Cubs News & Notes

  • El Mago has always been “The Show,” but now it’s official. Javy Báez has been chosen to be the face of baseball and grace the cover of MLB The Show 20.
  • It’s a reasonable leap knowing that Espada’s first interview — which went very well — left the Cubs’ front office enamored enough to make the Astros bench coach a slight favorite over Ross.
  • Patrick Mooney of the the Athletic believes that any dialogue between Espada and Chicago’s front office should be part of a two-way interview of sorts ($). Presumably, this applies to Ross as well.
  • If it seems as if the Cubs have been continually searching for a leadoff hitter since Dexter Fowler signed with the Cardinals, that’s because exceptional leadoff hitters are rare finds in baseball today. Options could include Starling Marte and Whit Merrifield, but they’d be costly in terms of players and prospects. An under the radar option could be David Fletcher of the Angels. Eric Sogard is a free agent this winter, too.
  • If Ben Zobrist moves on, there are a number of options available to replace him. I say be bold and and go after Marcus Semien of the Athletics. The Cubs may already have an in house replacement for BenZo in Ian Happ.
  • Nicholas Castellanos was well-liked in by Cubs fans and teammates, and it often felt like he kept Chicago afloat during the stretch run as the rest of their lineup sputtered. Recency bias or not, there might be pressure on Epstein to bring Castellanos back after such a successful audition.
  • Whether he re-ups with the Cubs or moves on to another team, Cole Hamels is out to prove the naysayers wrong in 2020. I think he could be a great value signing for the Cubs on a one-year deal, though I’m sure Hamels will get better offers from other teams.
  • Just asking, but did the Cubs ever get a PTBNL for dealing Drew Smyly to the Rangers last winter? Baseball Reference has yet to identify said player.

Tuesday Stove

Could the Yankees be targeting Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor? In his latest article for The New York Post, Joel Sherman suggest that the Yankees might be a fit for the star infielder. Cleveland has already conceded they cannot afford Lindor long term, and he will be a free agent after the 2021 season. Lindor is owed about $43 million over the next two seasons, an amount that can be better managed by the big budget Yankees.

The Indians already announced that they plan to pick up Corey Kluber’s $17.5 million option for 2020, even after the right-hander missed most of ’19, first with a fractured right arm and then with a left oblique strain. Still, Cleveland is expected to explore options to trade the two-time Cy Young winner and would move Kluber if the right deal presents itself.

According to Mark Feinsand of, the feeling among baseball front offices is that Scott Boras will use the opt-out leverage built into the contract of prized pitcher Stephen Strasburg to get the Nationals to add another year or two to the end of his deal, keeping the dominant righty in Washington.

If J.D. Martinez exercises his opt-out in Boston, the Red Sox are expected to let the slugger walk.

Extra Innings

This is a bad look for the Astros, and for baseball in general. Shame, shame.

They Said It

  • “There is a human side, an analytical side, a strategy side; how can I use the numbers and the information to make in-game decisions? I have been blessed to be with two organizations in the Yankees and Astros whose infrastructures are designed for the new ways of thinking. It’s been mind-blowing [to be surrounded] with smart people and smart front offices. It makes a huge difference.” – Joe Espada

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Torn Between Two Lovers by Mary McGregor. Epstein will have a tough decision to make after baseball’s next champion is crowned.

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