Plan B: Girardi passes on Cubs, returns to Yankees

Plan B: Girardi passes on Cubs, returns to Yankees
October 9, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Too soon to start the Joe Girardi-to-Chicago-in-2017 rumors?

Girardi Watch finally ended Wednesday, leaving the Cubs still looking at Plan B options as the New York Yankees re-signed their manager to a four-year deal reportedly worth $16 million plus postseason bonuses.

The Cubs had doubts Girardi would actually go through with it and leave New York. They wondered if this was another franchise myth and had already moved forward by interviewing San Diego Padres executive A.J. Hinch and ESPN analyst/former manager Manny Acta (Washington Nationals/Cleveland Indians).

"After talking with my family, we decided that this was where we wanted to come back," Girardi told reporters on a conference call. "It's a special place to manage because of the opportunity that you have every year and the tools that they give you. The history of this organization is unbelievable. There are special things that happen here every year."

[MORE: Acta intrigued by Cubs opening]

The next Cubs manager won't have those resources right away or a win-now mandate. Firing Dale Sveum wasn't all about chasing Girardi. There was a disconnect between Sveum and team president Theo Epstein that had been growing for months.

Padres bench coach Rick Renteria is on the radar as a potential replacement. Indians coach Sandy Alomar Jr. - who interviewed for the job two years ago - is believed to be in the background.

Girardi was said to be conflicted about leaving The Bronx, where he won three World Series rings as a player and managed the team to another title in 2009. He enjoys working with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. His three children are settled in Westchester County.

Still, it had been 10 days since Girardi and Cashman met for coffee the day after the season ended and the two sides began negotiating. The ex-Cubs catcher had also met his wife Kim at Northwestern University. Even though the connections to the Midwest had faded, there were still enough personal reasons for the Peoria guy to seriously think about it.

[WATCH: Girardi talks about his decision to stay with the Yankees

Girardi's contract - believed to be three years, $9 million - was set to expire on Oct. 31. But other than the back channels, the Cubs didn't really get a shot at the one guy who would have been style and substance, the intersection of the business and baseball plans at Clark and Addison.

"You hear stuff and you read things and you think about things, (but) our lives have been here for six years," Girardi said. "To be able to say as a manager of a professional baseball team - or if you're the head coach of a football team - that you have an opportunity to spend 10 years in one city and watch your family grow is extremely lucky. I think that's important. I think stability is important.

"Chicago is special to me. And I think it'll always be special to me. Because it was who I grew up rooting for as a kid. (That's where) my father took me to see ballgames as a kid at Wrigley Field.

"It will always hold a special place in my heart. I don't think that will ever go away. But this place is really special to me, too."

Girardi will turn 49 next week, and who knows how long it will take before the Cubs see results in their multi-year rebuilding project. But with the Yankees manager locked up through the 2017 season, that will silence - for now - the speculation that surrounded the searches when Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella and Sveum left Wrigley Field.