Add another name to the list of candidates for Cubs manager.
Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com reports that the Cubs interviewed Padres special assistant and former major league catcher Brad Ausmus for their managerial opening yesterday. He becomes the sixth reported candidate to interview, joining former Mariners manager Eric Wedge, Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch, Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, former Nationals manager Manny Acta, and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez.
Andracki writes that the Cubs “have shown a propensity” to favor candidates who they are familiar with and Ausmus is no different, as Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer hired him for his current position when he was GM of the Padres. The Cubs’ front office also has a history with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, so it appears that he’ll still end up getting an interview.
Ausmus’ only managerial experience is with Team Israel, who failed to qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. That hasn’t stopped him from being a popular name for openings around MLB, as he was a candidate for the Nationals’ job and recently met with the Tigers.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.