CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs hired Padres bench coach Rick Renteria as their manager Thursday, bringing in a 51-year-old, first-year skipper they hope will develop their young talent and help establish the long-suffering franchise as a regular postseason contender.
Renteria was given a three-year contract, with club options for 2017 and 2018. Terms were not disclosed.
He has spent the past six seasons in San Diego, the last three as bench coach. Renteria has also coached in the Florida Marlins’ organization and in March managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He replaces Dale Sveum, who was fired after two losing seasons.
The Cubs were 127-197 under Sveum and finished in last place in the National League Central Division for the first time in seven years.
The team had targeted Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a Peoria, Ill., native and Northwestern product who once played for the Cubs. But the former catcher signed a four-year contract worth up to $20 million to stay with New York through 2017.
Besides Renteria, the Cubs interviewed former Mariners and Indians manager Eric Wedge, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, former Diamond-backs manager A.J. Hinch, and Brad Ausmus, who was hired by the Tigers on Sunday.
Now it’s up to Renteria to help Cubs president Theo Epstein continue the overhaul of a franchise that has infamously not won the World Series since 1908.
The Cubs have dumped long-term contracts and traded anyone of value in an effort to stock the farm system since Epstein was hired, hoping the payoff will be the sort of championship success he enjoyed in the front office in Boston.
Among Renteria’s tasks will be getting the most out of shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, two young players who have long-term contracts. Both were underwhelming last season and pitcher Jeff Samardzija had an up-and-down season.
With prospects Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant in the pipeline, the Cubs made it clear they want to provide the right environment for their young players to develop.
Renteria has 30 years of professional baseball experience, none of it as a big-league manager. He was a minor-league manager in the minors for eight years with the Padres and Marlins. That followed a 13-year playing career that included all or part of five seasons with the Pirates (1986), Mariners (1987-88) and Marlins (1993-94). The 1980 draft pick was a career .237 hitter with 20 doubles, four home runs and 41 RBI in 184 big-league games.