Chicago Cubs: Joe Espada could be the perfect fit as the next manager

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

It appears that Joe Espada has entered the conversation for next Chicago Cubs manager. Does the Astros bench coach make sense to replace Joe Maddon?

While Joe Espada is currently preparing for a winner-take-all Game 5 between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs appear to have their eyes on A.J Hinch’s right-hand man.

According to reports by the Athletic’s Patrick Mooney (subscription required), Espada is on Theo Epstein’s list of candidates for the next Cubs manager. According to Mooney, the Cubs would like to speak with Espada, if the opportunity presents itself.

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What Espada brings

While Espada may not be as much of a household name as Joe Girardi or David Ross, his resume does speak for itself. Espada’s professional baseball career came to an end after some time in the Royals, Cardinals, Rangers and Rays organizations.

The Puerto Rican native never made an MLB roster, but left enough of an impression on the Marlins that he began his coaching career in their Minor League system in 2006. Espada would go on to be the third base coach for the Marlins from 2010 to 2013.

After his time with the Marlins, Espada spent time in the Yankees organization as a Special Assistant to General Manager Brian Cashman before taking his role as Astros bench coach in 2017. While only 44 years old, Espada has spent significant time working with two cutting-edge organizations (Yankees and Astros) that the Cubs could be looking to emulate in the future. He’s also the type of youthful, analytically driven mind that Epstein could be looking for.

Is he the best option?

While Espada looks like a solid candidate on paper, there is still a certain level of unknown about how a team would look and operate under his tutelage. Nobody in the Cubs front office have ever worked alongside Espada, although there are connections throughout the organization. Espada’s brother-in-law is former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde and Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer worked with A.J Hinch during his time in the Padres organization.

It seems that the Cubs have done their due diligence on Espada, and like what they’ve heard. However, they’ll have to ask permission from the Astros organization, and likely wait until their postseason run concludes to interview Espada.

All other known managerial candidates (Girardi, Ross, Will Venable and Mark Loretta)  are free to interview for the job right away. It is unknown whether Epstein and co. are willing to wait through a potentially deep Astros playoff run to interview Espada, especially if he’s the only playoff coach that the Cubs are interested in.

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The Cubs have lacked an “edge” and an innovative approach to the game since their World Series year in 2019. Whether or not Espada could be the guy to bring that magic back remains to be seen, but whoever the Cubs end up choosing has their work cut out for them.