Joe Girardi might not be considered by most as the favorite to land the Cubs’ managerial job, but the former Yankees skipper is the early leader in sheer interview time — if not the leader in time management.
Girardi, the former Cubs catcher and Northwestern star, used the day off in the Rays-Astros American League Division Series broadcast schedule to fly into Chicago.
He headed straight from the airport to the Cubs’ offices, where he spent the next eight hours.
Rushing to a waiting SUV after leaving team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer in the lobby, Girardi paused for just a moment when asked how he thought the interview went.
“I was happy,” he said.
As for whether he prefers the Cubs to New York, Girardi said he didn’t have time to talk because he had a flight to catch for Houston and climbed into the SUV.
The New York question could play a bigger role than expected in the Cubs’ search if they target Girardi or another of their candidates — both of whom are reportedly scheduled to interview for the Mets’ vacancy.
A source said Wednesday that the Cubs have Yankees special assistant Carlos Beltran, the nine-time All-Star outfielder, on their list of potential candidates, although an interview has not been scheduled. It is unclear whether they have sought permission yet from the Yankees to interview Beltran.
The Cubs appear to be moving fast on a list that includes at least six potential candidates.
Girardi was the third to interview. Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta interviewed last Thursday, and first base coach Will Venable interviewed Monday.
A source said presumptive favorite David Ross is scheduled to interview Thursday and that Astros bench coach Joe Espada also is on the list.
Espada’s status could be the trickiest, with the Astros and Rays playing Game 5 on Thursday and a potentially long playoff run possible if Houston wins.
Otherwise, the Cubs could be in position to fill the job as quickly as any of the seven teams with openings.
“Full speed ahead,” Epstein said of his approach to the managerial search the day after the season ended.
Girardi, 54, is the only one of the six known candidates with big-league managing experience.
He won a Manager of the Year award in 2006 with the Marlins and led the Yankees for 10 seasons after that, including a 2009 championship season.
“Lack of experience is always a factor,” Epstein said at the outset of the search. “It’s not a determining factor, but it’s a significant factor. I always have a greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person’s done that role before, especially with manager. But I think there are ways for that to be overcome.”
Girardi, a Cubs fifth-round draft pick in 1986 and All-Star in 2000, also figures to be the most expensive candidate on the list.
His last Yankees contract paid him $4 million a year, an especially high salary compared to the recent trend of declining manager salaries.
“We have no problem paying the right manager an appropriate level,” Epstein said last week. “If that’s an experienced manager who has won and there’s a lot of competition for his services, we always pay accordingly.”
Joe Maddon, who was fired the final weekend of the season, signed a five-year, $25 million deal to manage the Cubs. The deal escalated to $28 million after the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.
“The amount of money we’ll be paying for a manager has never come up,” Epstein said. “Literally never come up one time, that we should consider a change so we can pay a manager less. It has never been bandied about in these walls, period.”