On Sunday, the Chicago Cubs announced that manager Joe Maddon would not return to the club next season. Rather, the Cubs will permit him to become a free agent while seeking a different skipper. As such, Maddon's five-year tenure with the Cubs will end with four playoff appearances and 90-win seasons, as well as the 2016 World Series championship. 

Whoever succeeds Maddon, then, will have their hands full trying to produce a better five-year run. And whom might that be? Obviously it's too early in the process to know for sure. We wanted to provide some food for thought, however, and so below you'll find 12 potential candidates for the gig. Do note that this is more guesswork than labor, and that the candidates are listed in alphabetical order as opposed to from least to most likeliest or anything like that.

With those caveats out of the way, let us proceed.

Brian Butterfield

Currently the third-base coach for the Cubs, Butterfield has been named on future manager lists for a while. He'll 62 next March, so he's getting close to the point where it's either going to happen soon or never happen at all. The Cubs might be reluctant to name someone from their current staff as the manager, but we're including him for posterity's sake if nothing else.

Mark DeRosa

DeRosa has done more television work than coaching since he retired, but if the Cubs are committed to following in the New York Yankees' footsteps then why not? DeRosa is regarded as an intelligent fellow and is close enough to his playing days to "get" today's player. 

Joe Espada

An increasingly popular name, Espada has served as the Houston Astros bench coach for the past two seasons. Prior to then, he was a member of Joe Girardi's Yankees staff. Espada will coach most of next season as a 44-year-old, putting him on the younger side.  All the same, he's well-regarded and it seems like a matter of if not when he gets named someone's skipper.

Cole Figueroa

Here's an outside-the-box candidate. Figueroa is just 32 years old and at present serves as the Tampa Bay Rays' assistant director of hitting development. He has front-office experience and was learning how to use coding programs during his playing days. He's a curious, thoughtful individual, in other words, who could make the leap from a front-office gig to a managerial helm quicker than you'd think. Theo Epstein and crew have shown a willingness to be bold in the past -- hiring Figueroa would represent an aggressive move for the future.

Sam Fuld

Similar to Figueroa in that Fuld has worked inside a front office and has been exposed to baseball's new math over the last several years. A Stanford alum, Fuld spent this season as the Phillies' major league player information coordinator, whatever that entails. He's on the fast track to holding down a managerial post of his own.

Joe Girardi

Hey, why not? Girardi has a history with the Cubs and has proven he's fit as a big-league skipper. The Cubs are probably going to look for someone younger and more charismatic, but it's important to not forget Girardi is out there for the taking.

Andy Green

It would be somewhat amusing if Maddon and Green essentially swapped places. Green didn't enjoy much on-the-field success with the San Diego Padres. He still has plenty of fans within the industry who suspect he'll eventually become a good big-league skipper. Whether that's in Chicago or elsewhere is to be seen.

Brandon Hyde

We're including Hyde because he does have a history with the Cubs and he would probably be one of the favorites had he not landed the Baltimore Orioles job last winter. We don't think it's likely at all that the Orioles would permit him to go, but if the Cubs were willing to offer compensation of some sort maybe that would change Mike Elias's mind. None of this seems particularly likely, of course, but whatever.

Mark Loretta

One of the early favorites to replace Maddon, Mark Loretta spent this past year as Cubs' bench coach. He's not too far removed from his days as a player, having retired after the 2009 season, and it's clear the front office likes and trusts him on some level. At minimum, they may try to keep him on the next manager's staff, depending on whom they hire.

Hensley Meulens 

Meulens, better known as "Bam Bam," nearly landed the Yankees' job the winter before last. He speaks a handful of languages and should be an intriguing candidate for multiple openings, including the one out in San Francisco, where he currently serves as the Giants' bench coach.

David Ross

The odds-on favorite to replace Maddon, Ross is beloved by the Cubs' clubhouse and fits the managerial archetype by being a longtime backup catcher. (For the time being, he's an ESPN game analyst.) It's unclear if the Cubs have genuine interest in naming Ross manager or if it's just a matter of everyone connecting the dots for the sake of an easy narrative. We'll find out soon enough.

Don Wakamatsu

We'll end with Wakamatsu, the Rangers bench coach  who hasn't been a full-time manager since getting canned by the Seattle Mariners in 2010. Nevertheless, Wakamatsu almost always seems to get interviewed for gigs, in part of how well respected he is around the game. Is he likely to get this job? No. Is he likely to land a second managerial gig at some point? Yeah.