Last Monday, Theo Epstein said that, of the people on the Cubs' "broad list" of candidates to fill their manager spot, at least one was on a team in the playoffs. At the time, MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported that Raul Ibanez - currently a special assistant in the Dodgers' front office - would be considered for the Giants' and Cubs' vacant manager spots. Mystery solved.
Or so we thought. Today, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic posited another name the Cubs will speak to that fits Epstein's description: Astros bench coach Joe Espada. The search for Maddon's replacement is obviously ramping up, with the Cubs set to interview Will Venable, David Ross and Joe Girardi this week after meeting with Mark Loretta last Thursday. But according to Mooney, Espada is someone that intrigues Epstein because of his experience working in an organization of sterling repute like the Astros.
At age 44, Espada wouldn't be too far removed from the age of his potential players, but still brings a wealth of managerial-adjacent experience. After the 2017 season, Espada replaced Alex Cora as Houston's bench coach when Cora took the Red Sox manager spot vacated by John Farrell. (Cora, of course, won a World Series in his first year as Red Sox manager - not a bad start to the AJ Hinch manager tree.) Prior to that, Espada spent four years as a pro scout and third base coach with the Yankees, and four seasons before that as the Marlins third base coach.
The Astros are currently locked in a surprisingly contentious ALDS matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays, so look for any further developments on Espada meeting with the Cubs as that series winds down. Ross and Girardi remain the highest-profile names that the Cubs are reportedly considering, but anything can certainly still happen. Stay tuned.