Cubs Rumors: Gabe Kapler, Joe Espada to Interview for Manager Vacancy

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies gives the thumbs up as he exchanges line ups with the Miami Marlins before a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 29, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Marlins defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs will reportedly interview former Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada for their managerial vacancy, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

Rogers added that Kapler and Espada should round out the candidates under consideration. The team has already met with first-base coach Will Venable, bench coach Mark Loretta, front office assistant David Ross and former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. 

The Cubs fired Joe Maddon after going 84-78 and missing the postseason. Since winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs have taken a step backward in each of the last three campaigns:

  • 2017: Lost in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 2018: Lost in the National League Wild Card game to the Colorado Rockies
  • 2019: Missed the postseason altogether and finished third in the NL Central

Given the talent the Cubs still boast, missing the postseason was dubbed unacceptable, even for the man who ended the organization's infamous title drought. 

Neither Kapler nor Espada would offer the pedigree of Maddon, but both would represent a new direction for the franchise. Kapler, 44, went 161-163 in two seasons as Philadelphia's manager, including the team's wildly disappointing 2019 campaign after landing players like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen in the offseason.

Although the team fell short of expectation, the argument could be made that the Phillies underachieved more because of a subpar pitching staff than due to Kapler's management. Regardless of where the proper blame falls, it was a disappointing year in Philly.

Espada, on the other hand, has never been an MLB manager, though he has managed the Puerto Rican League's Gigantes de Carolina and Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team in both 2013 and 2017. 

He also worked for the Miami Marlins (2006-13) and New York Yankees (2015-16) in a number of roles, from coaching to front-office duties, before joining the Astros.