CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs are set to hire San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria as their manager, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the hiring has not been announced. The team was expected to make it official on Thursday.
The move ends a long search that began with the last-place Cubs targeting New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, only to be denied a shot when he decided to stay put.
Instead, the Cubs are hoping Renteria can help develop their young players and lead them to their first championship since 1908. He replaces Dale Sveum, who was fired after two seasons.
The Cubs went 66-96 this season and finished at the bottom of the NL Central.
A former major league infielder, Renteria spent the past six years on the Padres’ staff and had been their bench coach since 2011. Before that, he coached and managed in the San Diego and Florida Marlins organizations.
Renteria also managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March.
The Cubs are counting on him to get the most out of young players such as shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, along with prospects such as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant.
The lack of development by young players on the roster was a major sticking point with Sveum. And with more young players on the way, the front office decided it was time for a change.
The Cubs were 127-197 under Sveum and finished in last place for the first time in seven years.
They had targeted Girardi, a Peoria, Ill., native and Northwestern product who played for them. But the former catcher signed a four-year contract worth up to $20 million to stay with New York through 2017.
That forced the Cubs to look elsewhere.
Besides Renteria, they 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.
They were also interested in talking to Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo. But according to reports, the Red Sox invoked an agreement banning Cubs president Theo Epstein from hiring any of their employees over a three-year period.