The Cubs have less than one week left in the regular season, which means it might be the final week of Joe Maddon’s five-year run in charge of the team’s dugout.
When Maddon’s long-time top lieutenant, Dave Martinez, was plucked away from the Cubs to be the manager in Washington, the Cubs installed their own long-time crew member Brandon Hyde to be the bench coach under Maddon (having done so once previously when hiring Rick Renteria as manager). Whether that was part of a longer-term transition planning process we’ll never know, as the Baltimore Orioles plucked Hyde away before this season.
So, together with Maddon, the Cubs added long-time Padres front office man, and former player, Mark Loretta to be the new bench coach for the 2019 season. The speculation about Loretta being Maddon’s eventual successor, given his front office background and heralded communication skills, was immediate and understandable. The front office declined to even negotiate a contract extension with Maddon, so it is only logical that folks would wonder whether Loretta’s addition to the staff while his star was on the rise was a grooming process.
A season later, Maddon is on the verge of being allowed to walk as a free agent, and the speculation about Loretta is front and center once again:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) September 23, 2019
Given the internal connection, it’s not really a huge leap to offer what Heyman did, but still, it’s on the radar.
“At this time it’s speculation – I think Mark Loretta is the most likely candidate to be the Cubs’ manager,” Heyman said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Monday morning. “He did take a job there coaching, and everyone seems to respect him. His name is coming up with other teams now. Not that that’s the reason, but I do think that he will be a very strong candidate to be the manager.”
Other candidates Heyman listed, each of whom has come up heavily in conversations and speculation before: MLB Network Analyst/Former Cub Mark DeRosa, and ESPN Commentator/Cubs Front Office Member/Former Cubs Catcher David Ross. DeRosa has been a hot candidate in punditry circles for years now, so clearly there’s something there that folks expect will connect well with players and front offices. Ross, I presume you know, but in his later playing days, he was roundly regarded as one of the most obvious future managers in the game.
It’s not certain that either of those guys would actually be down to jump into the manager’s chair right now anyway, but if they were, we’ll see if the Cubs reach out. Loretta, by contrast, is presumably interested in a managerial job. Indeed, it’s possible his old club, the Padres, could reach out.