Joe Maddon is being announced officially Monday as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs. As you’ve probably heard Maddon has walked a controversial road from opting out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays to becoming the new manager on the Northside of Chicago.
After unexpectly learning that he could opt out of his contract with the Rays if the team’s GM Andrew Freidman left the club, Maddon, who had been in talks with the Rays about an extentsion, shocked everyone and left the Rays.
Quite soon after, too soon as far as the Rays were concerned, there were whispers he was in talks with the Cubs and by late last week though the Cubs had not yet made an official annoucnement it was clear that he would be there new manager.
The Rays were not happy, thinking that maybe Maddon and the Cubs had been in talks prior to his opting out of his contract and while he was in talks with the Rays. Alan Nero, Maddon’s agent dimissed these ideas as “silly.”
Still the Rays did have an opportunity to file a tampering investigation with the Cubs that would have basically, if found to be true, made the Cubs give the Rays a player in trade as compensation. All in all, that would not have been the biggest deal in the world. But there was no evidence of tampering and it can be hard to prove.
According to an interview Nero gave to SiriusXM/MLB Network that the initial contact made by the Epstein was just an email asking for proof that there was in fact an opt out. Accoring to Nero, Epstein made sure that there was approval from MLB to pursue Maddon, meaning there was no tampering.
Regardless what really happened was that the Rays and Maddon could not come an agreement that would have been well below Maddon’s market value. Although even Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg reportedly said that they had offered Maddon a mutli-year deal and a significant raise.
Still any raise the Rays could have offered would have been no where near close the $5 million a year a manager like Maddon could and should be earning. The Rays were hampered once again by being a small market team.
Maddon was signed by the Cubs so quickly because they were willing to offer him somewhere around the $5 million per year that managers like the Los Angeles Angels Mike Scioscia is making.
ESPN’s Buster Olney provided the contract details via Twitter,
Joe Maddon’s contract with the Cubs: Five years, $5 million a year, with bonuses tied to the postseason. No opt-out with his contract.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 3, 2014
The other reason he signed so quickly with the Cubs is that because Cubs’ general manager Theo Epstein knows what Maddon can do. He took the Rays to the playoffs six times in nine seasons in the ultra competitive AL East.
Also, Maddon was Epstein’s runner up to Terry Francona when he was interviewing new managers as the GM of the Boston Red Sox who went on to break their 86-year curse, winning a World Series in 2004.
Eptstein has built a team that could possibly soon break the Cubs own curse and they have a better chance to do so with a former two-time Manager of the Year at the helm.
The press conference announcing Maddon as the potential savoir of the Cubs from the 107-year-old “Curse of the Billy Goat” is currently taking place outside of Wrigley Field in Wrigley Ville because the stadium is currently undergoing renovations.
As the Cubs said on Twitter,
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 3, 2014