Joe Girardi knew he wasn’t Cubs’ favorite for manager, failed in effort ‘to change their mind’

The former Cubs catcher interviewed with the Cubs for eight hours between broadcast assignments in October but lost out to ‘groomed’ candidate David Ross. Girardi, who managed the Yankees for nine seasons, was hired by the Phillies instead.

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Joe Girardi with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer at the end of his job interview in October.

Joe Girardi with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer at the end of his job interview in October.

Gordon Wittenmyer/Sun-Times

SAN DIEGO — Even after an eight-hour interview process in October, Joe Girardi harbored no illusions that he would land the Cubs’ managerial job that eventually went to longtime favorite David Ross.

“Any job that you go into I think a group has their idea of who their guys are, but if you’re not the No. 1 guy, it’s your job to change their mind in the interview,” said Girardi, the longtime Yankees manager who eventually was hired by the Phillies.

Girardi, the former Cubs catcher who was considered for previous Cubs openings, was one of six candidates the Cubs interviewed during this year’s process — even though in-house candidate Ross was considered Joe Maddon’s likely successor for more than a year.

Ross, who was hired as a special assistant for the Cubs’ front office after playing his final two seasons with the team, meets the national media as a manager for the first time Tuesday as part of the annual winter meetings availability.

Regardless of how open the Cubs might have been to him or other outside candidates, Girardi said he was “serious” in going after the Cubs job.

“I made it known that I wanted to get back into managing, and I didn’t know where the opportunities might come, or if the opportunities would come,” said the former Northwestern star from Peoria. “So I took it very seriously.

“They had kind of groomed David Ross, but I was still interested.”

Darvish deal a steal?

With four years left on a $126 million deal, the jury certainly remains out on whether the free-agent signing of Yu Darvish was worth the money.

But after Zack Wheeler got $118 million for five years with the Phillies last week and Stephen Strasburg followed with a record $245 million deal for seven to return to the Nationals on Monday, Cubs president Theo Epstein stopped just short of calling Darvish’s contract a bargain when asked about it after the Strasburg signing.

“The way Darvish pitched the second half of this year, any number would be a bargain. It’s hard to pitch better than he did,” Epstein said of Darvish, who had a 4.99 ERA as a Cub until after the All-Star break in 2019. “That’s where our focus is. He’s in such a great place mentally and physically right now. He was dominant; He wants to go do that over the course of many years as a Chicago Cub.

“Certainly the way the starting pitching market has moved and as quickly as it has moved, you couldn’t get a guy like Yu Darvish on that number now, let alone what’s left on his deal.”

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