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Theo Epstein expects front office to remain intact despite rumors

Theo Epstein, right, expects extension talks with chairman Tom Ricketts regarding his contract to start after the season.

PITTSBURGH – His top player development executive keeps getting mentioned publicly almost every time a potential general manager opening is discussed. Some of his other front office executives have been touted as emerging GM candidates.

But Cubs president Theo Epstein said Tuesday he believes the club’s upper management team will survive its 2015 success intact as it plans improvements into 2016.

“I think we have a pretty tight-knit group, and this is a great time be a Chicago Cub, whether you’re in uniform of in the front office,” Epstein said before Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Pirates at PNC Park. “I don’t really worry about losing people. But if we do, I think we have a really deep organization, that there’s another layer ready to step up. We have some depth in the front office.

“But I think that we’re a great team in the front office, and I expect us to stay together for a while.”

Jason McLeod, the team’s senior vice president for scouting and player development, said something similar last month when asked about rumored interest in him by other teams.

“This place is special,” McLeod said. “We’re winning, and it’s exciting, and a lot of our younger guys are up here, and we have a lot of work to do still. That’s where our focus is.”

One of the keys to the front office’s stability is Epstein’s status. His original five-year contract with the club expires next year, and he said there have been no substantive discussions with chairman Tom Ricketts about an extension – no discussions at all in the last several months.

But Epstein doesn’t seem to be wasting time or sweat on the issue, even after constructing a team that’s closing in on a playoff berth a year earlier than even some of the more optimistic projections within the organization.

“It’s literally not even a thought in my mind,” Epstein said. “It’s just something we’ll probably pick up when we’re done playing, whenever that is.”

This almost two years after his counterpart on the business side, Crane Kenney, signed a five-year extension, despite trailing the baseball side with a business plan that was designed to sync up with spending needs once the team became competitive.

“I have no concerns or worries about it whatsoever,” Epstein said. “Tom and I see things the same way. We know this is the beginning for this organization, and we all want to see it through.”