The haggling between the Cubs and Red Sox over Theo Epstein might not be the last battle between the two clubs this offseason.
The teams also could end up competing for managers — and specifically, Cubs legend and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
Sandberg turned down an offer from Epstein to manage the Red Sox’s Triple-A team last season; he already was committed to a similar position with the Phillies at that point, major league sources say.
Now Epstein is on the verge of joining the Cubs, whose previous GM, Jim Hendry, snubbed Sandberg for Mike Quade a year ago.
If Epstein hires a manager without major league experience, he probably would have little choice but to go with Sandberg. The hiring of another first-time, major league manager — say, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez — could alienate Sandberg from his former team for good.
Epstein, of course, might prefer a more established type, perhaps even his former Red Sox manager, Terry Francona. But Cubs owner Tom Ricketts reportedly wants to renew the organization’s ties with Sandberg.
Where do the Red Sox come in?
They also are likely to show interest in Sandberg; their incoming GM, Ben Cherington, was involved with the pursuit of Sandberg a year ago. And while it seems likely Sandberg would choose the Cubs over the Red Sox, the events of the past few weeks have proved yet again that in baseball, nothing is assured.
Sandberg, 52, managed at Class A with the Cubs in 2007 and ’08, Double A in ’09 and Triple A in ’10, when he was the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.
He impressed Phillies officials with his work at Triple A last season, leading the team to a wild-card berth in the International League.
— Ken Rosenthal