Joe Girardi must wait for new contract

Even with the looming possibility of his hometown Chicago Cubs making a run at manager Joe Girardi, the New York Yankees will not alter their current policy of waiting until the season ends to discuss new contracts.

"We'll deal with contract stuff down the line," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday.

With Cubs manager Lou Piniella retiring, Girardi has emerged as a possible candidate in Chicago. Girardi has the resumé and the ties to Wrigley Field that make him a natural choice for the Cubs. Plus, Girardi's three-year Yankees contract concludes at the end of this season.

In three seasons as a manager, Girardi has won an NL Manager of the Year award with the Florida Marlins, although he was fired after that one season. In Girardi's second season with the Yankees, he won a world championship.

Girardi is very connected to the Chicago area. He was born and raised in Peoria, Ill., which is about three hours from Chicago. He went to college at Northwestern. He broke into the majors as a Cub and had two stints with the team. He still has family in the area.

At worst, the Cubs possibility could give Girardi leverage in his negotiations with the Yankees. After beating out Don Mattingly for the Yankees job in Oct. 2007, Girardi made the team sweat by negotiating with the Los Angeles Dodgers for their managerial job at the same time. Girardi eventually signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Yankees.

Before Monday night's game in Toronto, Girardi tried to squelch the Cubs story, but he didn't completely rule out the scenario.

"I'm sure I'm going be asked that a lot now that [Piniella's] stepped down,'' Girardi said. "My focus is here. I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse and that's where my focus is. I'm very happy here, you know what? Great working relationship here with everyone involved and I'm very happy here.

"This organization has been great to me.

"I know I have a background there and I'm not going skirt around my background there. I grew up a Cubs fan. I played for the Cubs, but I'm not worried about that now. I'm worried about what we're doing now. We're in a fight.''

There is an intriguing scenario with the Cubs job that mirrors the situation when Girardi landed his gig in the Bronx. Back then, Girardi beat out Mattingly, who is a Yankees icon. In Chicago, if Girardi were to take the Cubs job, he would have to be deemed a better candidate than Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg currently manages the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate in Iowa.

Cashman will have a busy offseason, re-signing his own personnel. Besides the Girardi situation, shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera can become free agents at the end of the season.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

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