Just as it would be with a free agent player with whom the Cubs have spoken, it doesn’t mean a coaching move is imminent, but …
The next step in possibly adding former Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez to the Chicago Cubs’ staff is now in the bag. According to a Tampa Bay Times report, the Cubs have asked permission from the Rays to speak with Martinez, who formally resigned from the Rays last week after being passed over in their managerial search. The Rays granted that permission, according to the report, and there isn’t expected to be any compensation tied to hiring Martinez, if the Cubs do go down that road.
We may not hear about the Cubs actually meeting with Martinez, which may have already happened, until an announcement comes on the coaching staff as a whole.
The Cubs’ coaching staff remains partially up in the air after manager Rick Renteria was dismissed in late October, and Joe Maddon was brought on board. Prior to that unexpected change, the staff was expected to stay the same heading into 2015, with the exception of assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley. But then hitting coach Bill Mueller left, ultimately landing with the Cardinals, quality assurance coach Jose Castro left for the Braves, the Cubs hired John Mallee as the new hitting coach, the Cubs shifted Eric Hinske to the assistant hitting coach gig, the Cubs added Doug Dascenzo as the new first base/outfield coach, and the Cubs added Henry Blanco as the new quality assurance coach.
From there, it’s possible there will be no more changes, though there remain questions on whether third base coach Gary Jones, who joined the staff with Rick Renteria, will be retained, and whether bench coach Brandon Hyde, who has had many roles within the organization, will stay on in that particular role. I think it’s fair to guess at this point that the outcomes for Jones and Hyde could be tied to whatever happens with Martinez. I won’t pretend to know enough about the coaches’ direct impact on the players or the results to advocate one outcome or another, but, as I’ve said all along, there are reasons to believe Martinez is an excellent coach, so if the Cubs can get him in the fold without disrupting anything else in a damaging way, that’s what I’d like to see.
Also: probably a decent sign for the relationship between the Cubs and Rays that the latter did not withhold permission from the Cubs to talk to Martinez. Sure, that would have been the ultimate dick move to prohibit Martinez to talk to his most likely landing spot after passing him up for the managerial job, but the Rays have been notably bitter about the way Maddon, under whom Martinez served, departed for the Cubs. Maybe there’s a thaw underway. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, since any tampering issues are now within the hands of MLB’s investigations unit.