The Cubs are interviewing Astros bench coach Joe Espada for their managerial opening today, tweets Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets that they’ll also interview recently dismissed Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler this week. Espada’s Astros, of course, are still very much alive in their chase for a second World Series crown in three years, but today is a travel day for both remaining American League clubs.
Espada had a 10-year minor league career as an infielder but never cracked the big leagues. The Puerto Rican-born 44-year-old began coaching not long after retiring as a player, working with the Marlins organization as a minor league hitting coach and field coordinator. He eventually moved up to become the team’s third base coach for four seasons and served another three years in that same capacity with the Yankees.
Espada has also spent time as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman and has currently been in his position with the Astros for two seasons. He received quite a bit of managerial interest last offseason and seems increasingly likely to ultimately lead his own club, given recent interest and the general manner in which coaches from successful, analytically inclined coaches are coveted by other teams. He’s already been tied to the Angels’ vacancy and was involved in the respective managerial searches conducted by the Orioles, Rangers and Blue Jays last offseason.
Like Espada, Kapler is 44 years of age. He played parts of a dozen seasons at the MLB level before becoming a minor league manager with the Red Sox and, eventually, the director of player development for the Dodgers. Kapler was recently cut loose two seasons into a three-year deal to manage the Phillies, though owner John Middleton seemingly went through a painstaking deliberation before making what he characterized as a difficult decision. Middleton said that he and the club are “indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm” at the time of Kapler’s dismissal. Kapler is also set to interview with the Giants.
The Cubs are also known to be interested in Joe Girardi, David Ross and internal candidates Mark Loretta and Will Venable as possible successors to Joe Maddon, who was not brought back for a sixth season after his initial five-year deal to manage the Cubs expired. Notably, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers suggests that Kapler and Espada “should be” the final two candidates to receive interviews (Twitter link), so it seems that the next Cubs skipper will come from this batch of names. Chicago had interest in Carlos Beltran, as well, but Beltran declined the opportunity to interview with the team.