Go ahead and add Raul Ibañez to the “broad list” of Cubs managerial candidates that to this point only officially features David Ross. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has reported that the Cubs will consider the well-traveled former player and current special assistant to Dodgers president Andrew Friedman as they look to replace Joe Maddon.
Raul Ibañez, long viewed as a candidate for the #SFGiants managerial vacancy, will be considered by the #Cubs, as well. Has big-market experience as a player, front-office background with #Dodgers, and is an exceptional communicator in English and Spanish. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) September 30, 2019
This isn’t the first time Ibañez’s name has come up in conjunction with the Cubs, as Jon Heyman had previously reported that he was among a group identified as Maddon successors. Other names mentioned were Mark DeRosa and Aaron Boone, who then went on to accept the Yankees job. That Ibañez would be considered isn’t especially noteworthy, since he’s spent time with multiple big-market organizations and is highly respected, but there are some trends here that bear exploring a bit.
That report from Heyman was back ahead of the 2018 season, at which point Joe Maddon still had two seasons left on his deal. For as much talk as there’s been about how the signs were there last October that Maddon wouldn’t get an extension, searching for his replacement a year earlier indicates that a change was in the offing well before.
Also of note is that all three men named had zero managerial or coaching experience, which can likewise be said of Ross. While there are sure to be more people considered, some of whom have been in uniform as something other than a player, there’s an undeniable profile here when it comes to what the Cubs appear to be seeking.
There’s very popular notion that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer want a manager they can more easily control, which isn’t entirely untrue. But more than just having someone to act as their surrogate in the clubhouse, Epstein talked about changing the culture and avoiding the “winner’s trap” of complacency that has settled over the organization. What better way to shake those things up than by bringing in someone who isn’t as beholden to the way things have been?
And before you go thinking that rules Ross out, remember that he was there for the peak “Cubs Way” years and was not around for the cultural backslide of the last three seasons. In any case, the moral of the story is that the idea of replacing Maddon with a rookie skipper may have been the goal for much more than just the last few months.
Update: As first reported by the LA Times, Ibañez will not be pursuing any managerial vacancies this offseason. He was believed to be high on the Giants’ list of candidates to replace Bruce Bochy, but told the Times “it’s not the right time for me.”