At the outset of this offseason, there were as many as six big league managerial vacancies around baseball – the Orioles, Twins, Rangers, Angels, Blue Jays, and Reds – and Cubs Bench Coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for all but two of them (don’t worry, he’s staying put).
But even without any public indication that Hyde was ever a candidate for the Reds, I found myself tracking that process quite closely. Long before they hired (former Cubs coach) David Bell to be their new manager, the Reds reportedly had serious eyes for Joe Giradi, who ultimately removed himself from the running. That was definitely interesting, especially when paired with those early offseason rumors about Girardi maybe wanting to manage in Chicago.
So, then, why did Girardi opt out of a real shot at the Reds gig? Well, Girardi recently opened up about that decision to NJ.com and his explanation sure does make you wonder about his future: “I just decided that I was going to broadcast another year and spend another year with my family, wait to see what opportunities are presented next year and go from there. [I] thought I had good interviews but I just decided I’m going to wait.”
Girardi went onto explain that his decision to rebuff the Reds was not based on competitiveness – he says he’d lead a rebuilding club or one in the thick of their competitive window, no problem – but again reiterated that it just wasn’t the right time. But that’s not the headline. It’s an important note, but the main takeaway here is his choice to wait one more season, and I think could guess why.
At the end of the 2019 season, Joe Maddon will become a free agent. There’s technically still plenty of time for an extension to get done, but Theo Epstein says no extension is coming this offseason. Maybe a deal gets done later, but for many months ahead, it’s going to be completely fair to wonder whether the Cubs are anticipating they will make a change after 2019.
Could Girardi be waiting on a hoped-for-chance with the Cubs, specifically?
I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty, because this is a much longer conversation, but superficially, Girardi makes some sense for the Cubs. After all, he used to play in Chicago, he’s young, and he’s already managed successfully at two stops, including a long stint with the big-market Yankees. And, of course, the fact that he interviewed at all for jobs this winter sure seems like an intentional signal that he’s still a candidate/interested in managing. Him saying he wants to “see what opportunities are presented next year,” then, is hard to ignore.
Of course, there’s always turnover around the league – some expected, some not – and maybe Girardi simply didn’t see a fit with the open gigs this year. Oh, and hey, there’s another team in Chicago looking to turn a corner with some young talent the way the Yankees did in Girardi’s last season with the team. Of course, it would be pretty rough if this was the second big-name Joe that bounces Ricky Renteria from a job in Chicago ….
That said, I do think it’s fair to read Girardi’s comments as a signal of his interest in managing the Cubs next season. That doesn’t mean the Cubs will reciprocate those feelings, mind you, but I just don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that’s what he’s hoping for (again, when paired with the earlier rumors).