Eric Wedge is getting another shot at the Cubs job.
Cubs executives will formally interview Wedge next week as part of an expansive managerial search, major-league sources confirmed Friday. Wedge is only 45 years old, but he has already managed 10 up-and-down seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners (774-846 overall record).
Wedge joins a list that includes San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. The Cubs are expected to contact Boston Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo after the World Series. Padres executive A.J. Hinch and ESPN analyst Manny Acta interviewed in early October. There could be another mystery candidate or two.
Sources said Wedge has had in-depth discussions over the phone and will get the chance to make his pitch to Cubs management face-to-face next week in Chicago. The Cubs are said to be using multiple staffers from the baseball operations department as part of the process, not just team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
Wedge was the American League’s Manager of the Year in 2007, when the Indians won 96 games before blowing a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in the ALCS. He had overseen the rebuilding in Cleveland, helping develop a young core that included CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore.
But a small-market franchise went on a down cycle and Wedge got fired after a 97-loss season in 2009.
Wedge interviewed for the Cubs job that went to Mike Quade after Lou Piniella retired in 2010. Jim Hendry, the general manager at the time, had been the head coach at Creighton University when Wedge emerged as an All-American catcher on the Wichita State University team that won the College World Series in 1989.
Beyond the Missouri Valley Conference connection, Wedge had grown up in Fort Wayne, Ind., giving him deep roots in the Midwest. He was drafted by Boston and played 39 games across four seasons with the Red Sox and Colorado Rockies before getting a jump on his coaching career.
Wedge walked away from the Mariners under bizarre circumstances, expressing frustration about his contract status before citing philosophical differences with the Seattle front office. He suffered a mild stroke this summer, missed about a month and returned in late August as the Mariners finished the season at 71-91.
Sources said Wedge had issues with general manager Jack Zduriencik as the Mariners watched another rebuilding project stall.
“Let me be clear here: The contract is not the reason I’m not coming back here,” Wedge told the Seattle media in late September. “If they’d offered me a five-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here.”
Wedge will have the opportunity to see if his personality clicks with Cubs executives. Their No. 1 choice came off the board when Joe Girardi decided to stay with the New York Yankees. But with managerial experience and a track record of working with young players, Wedge looks like a fit – at least on paper.