Cubs hire David Ross as manager on 3-year deal

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have hired David Ross to be their new manager, the team announced Thursday.

"I'm honored by this opportunity to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs," Ross said in a statement. "My time with this organization has been special since the day I joined, so to continue with the club in this role is a blessing for which I'm so very thankful."

Ross is getting a three-year contract with a team option for 2023, according to the Cubs. He will be officially introduced at a news conference Monday.

"We are thrilled to name David Ross as the 55th manager in franchise history," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement. "David is as gifted a leader as I've ever come across, and I expect him to become a great manager."

The 42-year-old Ross beat out five other candidates to replace Joe Maddon, who was hired by the Los Angeles Angels. Ross played under Maddon in 2015 and 2016, helping the Cubs to a World Series title before becoming a member of the team's front office and an ESPN baseball analyst.

"David has been a valuable contributor to our baseball coverage these past few years," ESPN said in a statement. "We wish him well in his new role and we look forward to covering him and the Cubs."

Ross will be asked to manage several players he once called teammates, including Kris Bryant.

"A lot has been made, and rightfully so, of my connection to the 2016 World Series team, and the notion that I'll now be managing players I once counted on as teammates," Ross said in a statement. "Having those relationships going into this will be a bonus, no doubt about it. But those guys know I'll be the first to hold them accountable, the first to demand their best daily effort and the first to let them know about it if they give anything but their best."

Epstein said Ross' history with the Cubs did not affect the decision to hire him as manager.

"David's connection to the organization and his relationships with his former teammates could be assets initially, but they were not factors in our decision nor will they be critical to his long-term success in the role," Epstein said. "He earned the job on the merits, and he will move the team forward in a new and different direction."

Other candidates for the job included Cubs first-base coach Will Venable, bench coach Mark Loretta, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, former Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Astros bench coach Joe Espada. Espada was called in for a second interview Sunday, which included a mock news conference, a source told ESPN. Ross did the same on Monday, and he performed as expected: extremely well, the source said.

Ross was a Game 7 hero for the Cubs in 2016, hitting a World Series home run before calling it quits on his career. He also won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox and played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.

Though Bryant and Javier Baez are under contractual control for two more years, the front office needs to determine what it wants to do with each slugger in the near future. Both would figure to command huge contracts if they hit the open market. Trading one could restock a thin farm system. The same goes for catcher Willson Contreras.

Ben Zobrist and Cole Hamels have expiring contracts, possibly freeing up some money for a team that began the season with the second-highest payroll on Opening Day at $209 million. The same goes for Nicholas Castellanos, who made a big impression on the Cubs after he was acquired in a July 31 trade with the Detroit Tigers. He batted .321 with 16 homers and 36 RBIs in 51 games for Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.