Report: Cubs appear to have “a very short list” of serious candidates for manager

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We heard various reports and speculation that the Cubs were willing to go all out in order to make Joe Girardi their next manager, but now that we can cross that possibility off the list, it’s time to take a look at the realistic candidates for the job.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the team “appears to be honing in” on “a very short list” of serious candidates, including former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch and former Indians and Nationals manager Manny Acta, both of whom have already interviewed for the vacant position.

There doesn’t appear to be a “favorite” for the job at this time, but word is that the Cubs only plan to add one or two more candidates to the mix. That includes Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, who will interview next week, and perhaps Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. was interviewed two offseasons ago before the Cubs hired Dale Sveum, but it’s unclear whether the club will meet with him this time around. And while the Maddux brothers would be well received, there’s nothing to suggest that they are candidates at this time.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.