I want the Cubs to hire their new GM quickly. Why? To spare us from speculation pieces with passages like this one from Olney’s column this morning:
And here’s another big name to keep in mind: Theo Epstein, the general manager of the Red Sox … Keep in mind that Epstein has carved out a strong position under Red Sox owners Henry and Tom Werner, and friends say he has a deep loyalty to the Boston organization — and keep in mind that Boston is his hometown, and that Epstein is in the middle of his current contract … There’s no telling how Henry would react, or how Ricketts would handle that situation, or what Epstein would want, until those conversations take place.
So there’s no suggestion that the Cubs are interested in Epstein, no suggestion that Epstein wants to go anywhere and he’s locked up for several more years? Well hell, you may as well start clearing out a new office for him already.
Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman are great GMs who make a load of money, have near-infinite resources at their disposal and, time after time, say they’re not interested in going anyplace else. In light of that, it seems like we should demand more than “[Epstein or Cashman] would be a good fit” stories. Of course they’d be good fits. They’d be good fits anyplace. But it strikes me that there’s gotta be some there there before we go there, ya know?
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.