With Theo Close, Could Sandberg Be Next?

With Tom Ricketts closing in on hiring Theo Epstein to run his baseball team, could Ryne Sandberg soon return to the organization? According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs want to renew ties with Ryne Sandberg.

According to the Sun-Times, “sources close to the Cubs, along with those close to Sandberg, have said in recent weeks that they expect a reconciliation this off-season.” The Cubs and Sandberg have not discussed the situation of late but all of that is expected to change once Epstein is officially in place.

Multiple reports have indicated Epstein and the Cubs have agreed to a five-year contract worth nearly $20 million. The only hurdle remaining is the compensation the Red Sox will receive. The Sox and Cubs are “working out the details of a compensation package of prospects and/or cash” and those negotiations could push the official announcement of Theo Epstein joining the Cubs’ front office into next week.

As has been reported, Theo Epstein interviewed Ryne Sandberg last winter about managing the Sox Triple-A team. Sandberg chose to take the managerial position with Lehigh Valley over Pawtucket … and Epstein was in attendance when Sandberg’s team knocked the Sox’s Triple-A squad out of the International League playoffs.

The Sun-Times reported that it is unclear if Sandberg would be a candidate to be the Cubs new manager or if he would hold a prominent spot on the Cubs’ coaching staff.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer, Sandberg “has been open to returning to the Cubs since Jim Hendry was fired” and one of the sources Wittenmyer spoke with suggested Sandberg “would be willing to accept a coaching job on the big league staff.”

Once Epstein is in place, he is expected to address the Cubs managerial situation and coaching staff right away. Mike Quade is still under contract for one more season. Rudy Jaramillo, Pat Listach and Lester Strode also have another year remaining on their contracts. The contracts of Mark Riggins, Ivan DeJesus and Bobby Dernier expire at the end of October.

If Epstein decides to make a managerial change, which is expected, DeMarlo Hale could be a candidate as well. Hale was Terry Francona’s bench coach and could become available if he is passed over for the managerial position in Boston. Hale, 50, is a Chicago native and is well respected in the game.

Stay Tuned …

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