Ryne Sandberg may not be an option to replace Mike Quade as Cubs manager, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Cardinals have asked the Phillies for permission to interview Sandberg as a potential Tony La Russa replacement.
Sandberg managed at Triple-A in the Phillies’ system this season and according to Rosenthal they’ll grant the Cubs permission.
Sandberg was passed over for the Cubs’ opening when then-general manager Jim Hendry decided to give Quade the full-time job and new team president Theo Epstein said today that Quade’s replacement must have significant big-league coaching experience, which seemingly rules out the Hall of Fame second baseman.
Chicago passing on Sandberg multiple times is plenty interesting, but his ending up in St. Louis would crank up the drama even further.
Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.
Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.