If this week’s schedule is any indication, the Cubs’ decision on a new manager could be headed toward a conclusion in the next week or so.
On Monday, the Cubs were scheduled to interview Astros bench coach Joe Espada. The club also added a surprising name to its interview list, saying recently fired Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will interview later in the week.
They are the fifth and sixth candidates to interview, including three last week: Cubs first-base coach Will Venable, popular former Yankees manager (and ex-Cubs catcher) Joe Girardi and presumptive favorite David Ross, a special assistant to the Cubs’ front office.
Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta interviewed the previous week.
Three more are known to have declined interview requests by the Cubs: Dodgers special assistant Raul Ibanez, Yankees special assistant Carlos Beltran and Phillies player-information coordinator Sam Fuld (another former Cub).
The Cubs could have significant competition if they choose to target one of the outside candidates for an offer.
Girardi, the most experienced candidate, interviewed with the Mets and is expected to interview with the Phillies.
Despite a lack of managing experience, Espada, 44, has gained growing attention as a rising managerial candidate since his days as a Marlins third-base coach, Yankees special assistant to the general manager and more recently as a coach with the cutting-edge Astros.
Kapler reportedly is interviewing this week with Giants baseball operations president Farhan Zaidi. Venable also has drawn interest from the team.
Kapler and Zaidi worked closely together for three years in the Dodgers’ front office, Zaidi as the general manager and Kapler as the farm director before taking the Phillies’ managing job in 2018. Kapler became a lightning rod in two seasons in Philadelphia, from embarrassing moves early in his first season (i.e., failing to have a pitcher ready when calling for a change) to regression of young core players in his second. There also were reports of veterans disgruntled over some of his and the staff’s methods.
“They’ve gone overboard on the analytics,” one player complained in an NBC Sports Philadelphia report.
The Phillies were in playoff position late in each of the last two seasons before fading. Seven weeks after ownership fired hitting coach John Mallee (the former Cubs coach) to bring in 75-year-old Charlie Manuel, it also fired Kapler, against the wishes of general manager Matt Klentak.