Girardi, 48, has been the club's manager since 2008, but his contract runs out at the end of this season, arguably his best one yet at the helm, especially considering all of the injuries that ravaged his roster throughout the season.
At a time when the Yankees franchise is facing a great many changes and challenges—saying goodbye to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte perhaps being the least of them—the team needs stability and security and familiarity now more than at any other point in the past two decades.
In short, the Yankees need Girardi. But as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports points out, Girardi is going to be a hot commodity this offseason, meaning he'll have no shortage of options should he want to explore them.
Even before New York's 2013 season came to a close over the weekend, speculation had already started that Girardi might be on his way out the door. There are rumors that the man who won Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins in 2006—in his first year as a skipper, by the way—and then helped guide the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title could be turning in his pinstripes and heading back home.
To Chicago, that is, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes:
[Girardi] would come with not only championship pedigree and a reputation as one of the better managers in the sport, but also a hometown guy (from nearby Peoria, went to Northwestern, played for the Cubs). [Cubs] Owner Tom Ricketts and influential team president Crane Kenney are said to be huge fans of Girardi.
Yankees management and fans may not want to hear it, but Girardi in Chicago makes a lot of sense.
For one, the Cubs already fired manager Dale Sveum on Monday, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. The fact that they did so merely hours after the season concluded would seem to indicate that the front office is hanging a sign out front of Wrigley Field that says, "Now Hiring! Inquire Within."
For another, Girardi would be given a long leash in Chicago, considering the rebuilding organization would be the one doing the courting.
And even though it's a long shot that's 105 years in the making, if Girardi could somehow manage (pun intended) to bring a title to the North Side, he would become something of a legend.
Beyond that, despite four consecutive losing seasons and dwindling attendance figures, the Cubs may actually have a more promising immediate future than the Yankees, who are missing out on the postseason this October for only the second time in the past 19 years.
Thanks to a boatload of top-tier prospects who are nearly big league-ready—from infielders Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Mike Olt to outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora to pitchers like C.J. Edwards and Arodys Vizcaino—Chicago has one of the best farm systems in baseball, in part because of salary-dump trades and plenty of high draft picks that came from all the losing in recent years.
Although expected building blocks like Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija may have had disappointing seasons this year, all three already have proven to be successful big leaguers—and still have immense upside.
That's more than can be said of many players on the Yankees, which is a big reason why Girardi would be smart to get out now, before things start, well, breaking bad in the Bronx, where the roster is in flux, complete with aging, injury-prone former stars like Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. That's to say nothing of Alex Rodriguez and the suspension that looms over his and the Yankees' heads for 2014—and maybe beyond.
Consider: The only regulars under contract for 2014 who are currently younger than 30 years old are infielder Eduardo Nunez, right-hander Ivan Nova and reliever David Robertson. Heck, even outfielder Brett Gardner is 30.
Girardi helped usher the Yankees through an increasingly difficult season, as David Waldstein of the New York Times writes, but there are still many challenges ahead in New York:
Girardi will have many other issues with which to contend if he returns. Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ best player, is a free agent. Alex Rodriguez is facing a possible 211-game suspension. Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson may be gone, and CC Sabathia may be on the decline after a career workload in which he has thrown 2,7751/3 innings, making it a challenge for the Yankees to field a competitive team in 2014.
For his part, Girardi indicated that he's not one to drag things out, per the Associated Press, which means he'll likely be looking to decide his future sooner rather than later. Of course, he's made it known that he's enjoyed his time in New York and is going to consider his family's input before making any decision, so he very well may wind up staying with the Yankees.
But if managing the Cubs is, in fact, Girardi's "dream job," as one of his close friends told David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, it's certainly an inviting opportunity, considering there's already an opening—and that the window of success in New York might be closing.
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