A couple of interesting new names threw their hat in the ring today and we may find out pretty soon if the Cubs will get their shot at Girardi...
UPDATE 11:38 AM: Not really an update because I missed this last night, but according to David Kaplan, Girardi has no interest in either the Nationals or the Reds. It's Cubs or Yankees, so if Girardi turns down this latest Yankees offer, it will look pretty good for the Cubs. Tony Andracki of CSN writes that Joe Girardi would give up all 3 of his Yankees rings for one with the Cubs. Wow. That seems to be a pretty good sign he'd prefer to come here, doesn't it?
UPDATE 9:13 AM: Heard from a source that Manny Acta and Sandy Alomar may be the Cubs top two choices after Girardi. There are some that may even prefer Alomar as the top choice overall.
- The Yankees made their offer to Joe Girardi and it is believed to be a significant one, which could mean this is their big pitch to land him. A response is expected to come as soon as this weekend. If Girardi flat out rejects it, it could mean that "breakdown in negotiations" that the Yankees said it would take for them to give the Cubs permission to talk. According to ESPN New York, "The Yankees may relax their position on the issue if they are convinced that Girardi is not going to return." It will be interesting to see how the Yankees play it, will they ask for compensation? With all teams free to talk to Girardi on November 1st, they don't have much leverage, but with Washington and Cincinnati looming as potential alternatives, maybe the Cubs would want an exclusive negotiating window. Washington is the bigger threat of the two. Then again, if the Cubs are confident they can sign him, maybe they just wait it out if the Yankees don't grant permission.
- There are multiple reports saying that Mike Maddux would be interested in managing the Cubs but it appears his time as a top candidate has passed. The Cubs criteria is different than it was the last time. You may remember they were looking for an inefficiency in the market when it comes to keeping pitchers productive and healthy, and that Maddux had a pretty good track record for that, though that staff did have more than it's share of injuries this year. The Cubs now look to be focusing on proven leadership experience, development, and communication skills. For what it's worth, Gordon Wittenmeyer agrees and in fact, he goes a step further and tweets that Maddux isn't even a candidate this time around.
- Meanwhile, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says that Greg Maddux is a candidate for the Cubs job and quotes a source that either Maddux brother could be an impact manager. You also wonder if they would come together. Maddux would certainly command the respect that many here talked about yesterday.
- One other argument for Girardi is stated in Patrick Mooney's column which quotes an insider as saying, "This place will chew you up and spit you out." Girardi can handle New York, so he can probably handle it here, not to mention he'd probably get a longer honeymoon period because of his track record and the fact that he already has respect from Cubs fans and the media. He also quotes sources who are saying forget the Maddux brothers. The top 3 candidates (other than Girardi) are exactly the ones we talked about here: Sandy Alomar, Jr., A.J. Hinch, and Manny Acta.
- Relief pitchers Michael Bowden and Eduardo Sanchez have elected minor league free agency. Both players were up and down between Iowa and Chicago last year and are likely looking for a more stable situation with another team. The Cubs bullpen is suddenly getting crowded with some good arms and I can't see the Cubs making a big push to get either one back.
- As far as potential Cubs major league free agents, there is Ryan Sweeney, Dioner Navarro, and Kevin Gregg as candidates. The Cubs will certainly look to bring Ryan Sweeney back, who performed well in his opportunity this year. Navarro may look for a starting gig somewhere after having the best offensive season of his career. The Cubs have said they'd be interested in bringing Gregg back, but I don't know if that end of year incident changed things. Gregg wasn't happy about being displaced as the closer and it seems likely the Cubs will want to try Pedro Strop or perhaps Justin Grimm in that role next season. Other free agents are Scott Baker and Matt Guerrier. The Cubs may try and bring Baker back on an incentive laden deal. Baker has indicated he'd like to return.
- Arbitration eligible players are Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, Darwin Barney, Daniel Bard, Darnell McDonald, Luis Valbuena, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Donnie Murphy and Nate Schierholtz. The Cubs would like to try and sign Wood to an extension and he indicated interest in that scenario earlier this year. Samardzija is in the same situation and has been for over the past year, but we'll have to see if the two sides can make better progress this offseason. Barney is about to get pretty expensive for a defense only player. Per MLB Trade Rumors, he's a non-tender candidate this year along with Darnell McDonald (who will likely be non-tendered) and Daniel Bard,who has yet to pitch a game for the Cubs.
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