By Ellen Chlumecky
Joe Maddon had been the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays for almost eight years. On Monday, November 3rd, President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein will be announcing that Joe Maddon will be the 54th manager in Chicago Cubs franchise history.
The team made the decision to fire current manager Rick Renteria earlier Friday, October 31st. While Epstein believed that Renteria deserved to come back for another season with the Cubs. Epstein gave Renteria positive end of the year reviews and even planned on having come back for the 2015 season. Epstein said nothing but positive things to Cubs season ticket holders and the media. Renteria seemed to be continuing his career through the Cubs’ organization, with a two-year contract under his belt.
However, on Thursday October 30, the Chicago Cubs organization learned that Joe Maddon had opted out of his contract. Maddon proclaimed himself under “test free agency” for the first time since he started managing in 1996. Once the Cubs heard about this, they jumped at the opportunity to have a seasoned veteran in their arsenal. Once they had made an offer, they made an announcement planning out a press conference for Monday to introduce Maddon as their new manager.
It all seemed like the perfect recipe for success, it all also seemed to be a little too easy. The Tampa Bay Rays are now considering filing tampering charges against Epstein. The Rays believe that Epstein coaxed Maddon to tap out of his final contract year. The Tampa Bay Times quoted Maddon’s agent “the accusations by the Rays of tampering in the move are really sad and a little bit insulting.”
Joe Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, was clearly frustrated by the accusations. Nero clearly stated that there was no foul play in the deal. The Chicago Cubs are offering Joe Maddon a salary of $5 million a year, which is along with the top paid managers in the league. Nero states that the Chicago Cubs clearly wanted Maddon more because of the offer made. The Rays had the opportunity to offer more and did not follow through on it, they could have stepped up but didn’t.
For the Rays to make such accusations seems a little far-fetched to make a case. At the end of the day, Maddon made the better business decision with the team that wanted him more. Even the Rays’ own newspaper hinted at the absurdity of the accusation. They laid out all the facts, not claiming anything the Cubs were doing to be foul play. If your own newspaper can’t get on board with your case, you might want to step back and reevaluate.