Joe Girardi has spent the last year in the television studio after the Yankees chose not to extend his contract following a surprise season in which they nearly reached the World Series. And it’s entirely possible he’ll spend another year away from the bench, this time due to his own preference. A preferred candidate for multiple managerial jobs, Girardi has removed his name from consideration for gigs in both Texas and Cincinnati.
Rather than simply enjoying the reduced pressure of studio work, Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweeted that many in the industry believe Girardi is waiting on the Cubs’ managerial spot to open up.
Girardi surprised reds by pulling out Friday. He had a chance to win job at that point but they never got to point of talking money with him. He also pulled out of rangers derby. Industry speculation: he’s waiting a year on Chicago
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 21, 2018
Okay, so Heyman didn’t specify that Girardi was holding out for the Cubs. Maybe he really digs what’s happening on the South Side and wants to be the second high-profile skipper for whom a Chicago team fired Rick Renteria. But I think it’s obvious what Heyman was driving at here.
But is that really a risk worth taking for Girardi?
Well, yeah, it’s totally worth waiting another year. As an Illinois native who attended Northwestern and played for the Cubs, returning home to manage holds a deep attraction for Girardi. The longtime Yankees skipper surely has enough money socked away to scrape by, and that’s without considering the salary he’ll draw from MLB Network. So he can afford to hold out for the right situation, which probably means avoiding rebuilds and regret to the greatest possible degree.
Even without any back-channel whispers that the Cubs job will indeed open up, Joe Maddon’s contract is set to expire and could produce a situation similar to the one Girardi went through in New York. So while I don’t believe he knows something about what’s going to happen, Girardi may just want to ensure that his options are open. It’s actually somewhat reminiscent of teams’ reluctance to play in last winter’s free-agent market knowing was on the horizon.
Okay, fine, but does Girardi really make sense for the Cubs? He’ll surely be among the top candidates should Maddon indeed be allowed to walk, though Alan Nero, Maddon’s agent, has said he plans to approach the Cubs about an extension this winter. While that could certainly happen, let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that Maddon is not extended.
In a vacuum, Girardi makes sense as a replacement for Maddon due to his past experience and ties to both the Cubs and the city, not to mention bringing a different philosophy and style to the equation. Far from Maddon’s laid-back substitute-teacher demeanor, Girardi is a little more old-school in his approach. Sometimes a change like that can yield positive results, though you have to wonder whether and for how long it would work in this situation.
After all, the end of Girardi’s tenure in New York was brought about by his inability to really connect with young players. It’s also been said that he preferred to go with his gut and that he rejected much of the data produced by the team’s analytics department. We’ve already seen the Cubs fire their hitting coach for those same reasons, so it’s unlikely they’d go for a manager who’d bring a similar attitude.
Maybe Girardi has changed, though, and is willing to embrace some of the things he had previously scoffed at. Being removed from the clubhouse for a couple years may lend him a different perspective. And part of that perspective might include not wanting to make a decision without being completely aware of all the options. Better to have the Cubs job not open up and to take something else than to take something now and then have his dream job come open.
Of course, this is all purely speculative and draws only from educated guesswork and hypothetical situations. If Maddon doesn’t ink an extension this winter, however, expect the whispers to get quite a bit louder.