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Now that Major League Baseball has ended the lockout, at least one of the items on Chicago Cubs’ offseason to-do list can be checked off. The club announced on Friday that that it had extended manager David Ross’ contract through the 2024 season, with a club option for 2025.
“I’m super excited,” Ross told reporters in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday. “I’m really thankful to the leadership I’ve had my first two years and continue to have with a lot of the new guys still up there. I’m in a really good position.”
The news came as players on the Cubs’ 40-man roster had already started reporting to Mesa, less than 24 hours after owners and the MLBPA agreed on a new CBA. Free-agent signing Marcus Stroman, Nico Hoerner Ian Happ and Nick Madrigal were just a few of the players who were caught strolling into Sloan Park prior to Sunday’s mandatory report date.
But the lockout didn’t necessarily affect Ross’ contract negotiations. The Cubs and Ross had “preliminary talks” about an extension as far back as the beginning of October as the 2021 regular season was wrapping up
“Honestly, the last thing on my brain right now is myself,” Ross said at the time. “That would be a little bit selfish on my part. I’m focused on the health and well-being of some players and coaches and all the group that’s here and trying to set us up to win this ballgame.
“If I’m meant to get extended, I’ll get extended.”
The move wasn’t unexpected. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer (and the man who hired Ross, Theo Epstein) saw enough in Ross to give him his first managerial job. That sentiment hasn’t changed after two seasons. And now, Ross should get a true shot at showcasing his managing chops without dealing with major negative factors outside of his control.
Remember, Ross’ first year as manager was the same year the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shortening the season to 60 games and not giving Ross nearly enough time to show what he can do over a full season. He still led Chicago to a National League Central crown with a 34-26 record, but it was still an abbreviated season that didn’t allow Ross to show what he could do over a full season.
Last season, Ross only got four months out of his full, competitive roster before a trade deadline selloff that saw Kris Bryant, Javier Báez Anthony Rizzo and more dealt across the league. The last two months of the year were spent figuring out what the Cubs had in their farm system as far as players that could make the roster competitive in the future.
So two seasons into his managerial career, it’s still unclear what Ross can do with a roster of proven Major League talent across a full, 162-game season. With three more seasons added on to his contract, he should finally get that chance.
As far as what this means for the team itself, ending whatever uncertainty there was around Ross’ future is a positive. Players don’t want their coaching staffs rotating constantly, and Ross has proven to be a great clubhouse leader who players can rally behind. That should prove fruitful if the current crop of prospects develop to Chicago’s liking As the current roster is constructed, a contending window might not open until 2024, which is when Ross will definitely have to prove whether he’s the manager that can lead the Cubs back to the World Series.
The lockout is over and spring training has begun. After 99 days of disappointment, the Cubs are finally getting down to Mesa to prepare for the 2022 season. How the front office approaches the rest of the offseason will be a major storyline, but at least Hoyer and Co. have locked down Chicago’s manager for the foreseeable future.
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