Cubs manager David Ross on deck for possible contract extension

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Extension in play for Ross after doing ‘fantastic’ job originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Cubs president Jed Hoyer said the club offered every core player contract extensions before the roster purge that sent most of them packing in deadline trades.

Now it looks like manager David Ross might get the next extension offer.

Ross might even take it.

“I love this job,” Ross said a few days ago, adding he had not discussed an extension with the front office. “There’s no secret to how much I enjoy being here.”

Hoyer stopped short of revealing extension plans with his second-year manager, calling it a question for after the season ends next weekend.

But Ross has just one year left on his original three-year deal, worth just over $3 million, and the last thing the Cubs need as they start to rebuild the roster and team culture over the next year is a continuity issue with management — much less a lame-duck manager dealing with questions about his status.

And his boss doesn’t seem to have any intention of letting that be an issue.

“I think he’s been fantastic, and I love working with him,” Hoyer said. “It’s obviously been a trying year for a lot of reasons, and I think he’s done a really wonderful job these last two months of keeping these guys playing hard. And I think that’s a testament to him and the respect they have for him.”

Asked if there was anything left to evaluate with 10 days left in the season, Hoyer said, “With him? No, not at all with him.”

Ross replaced the fired Joe Maddon after the 2019 season just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic to shut down his first spring training a month in and shorten his first season as a manager to 60 games — during which the Cubs were the only team in the majors without a player testing positive for COVID-19.

The Cubs won the division-title sprint in 2020, got bounced in a first-round playoff sweep, traded their ace (Yu Darvish) during the winter, got off to a poor start this year, rebounded to share first place as late as June 24, then lost 11 straight games, traded nine players off the big-league roster in July, released Jake Arrieta in August, then lost 12 straight games, later won seven straight games, never reached MLB’s herd-immunity vaccination level and have clinched their first losing season since 2014.

“I can’t think of a more challenging first two years as a manager than what he’s had on his plate, between last year — whatever that was — and then obviously the changes that have happened this year as well,” infielder Nico Hoerner said. “If there’s learning by experience, he’s definitely gotten every experience so far.”

Ross is scheduled to travel to Arizona as soon as the season if done to spend time with the player development staff and dozens of prospects during Instructional League work.

“I love it,” said Hoyer, noting the seismic shift in the organization from a veteran big-league core to a renewed focus on young players coming through the system. “He’s really excited about building a culture with these young guys. I think the major-league manager’s one of the most important aspects of that.

“As much as other people can say it,” Hoyer said of the expectations and message Ross has for players, “when the major-league manager says it, the guy that you desperately want to play for, I think that resonates in a different way. All of our conversations about building the next great Cubs team, he’s totally on board. He’s into imprinting it the right way, and I love that passion.

Added Hoyer: “He’s already an excellent manager, and I think he has a chance to be really special at this job.”

General manager search

Hoyer has begun the interview process for general manager candidates, but when asked about filling the nearly year-long vacancy, he would say only that he’s “in the process” of doing that.

What’s known is that Hoyer’s list of candidates includes executives from other clubs, with no in-house candidates interviewing.

The natural timeline would seem to be completing the process far enough ahead of the general managers meetings in early November to have the new GM in place for what’s certain to be an active offseason with lots of moving parts.

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