The Chicago Cubs will introduce their newest manager, Joe Maddon, at a press conference Monday at 2pm CT. Because of the way the hiring came about – the presence of otherwise liked manager Rick Renteria, fractured rumors and reports – there wasn’t really a JOE-MADDON-HIRED-DO-A-DANCE moment in the process. I guess it’s now? I’m totally into Maddon as the manager of the Cubs, but I’m just not sure I’ll be able to dance about it for a while. Just feels unseemly.
In any case, Maddon is now the Cubs’ manager, which is very exciting. You can read all around the web today about the Cubs’ move to swap Renteria for Maddon, with all of the good and bad ramifications. The upshot, though, is that the Cubs and Maddon did something icky, but understandable – maybe even laudable. The Cubs are taking a bold step forward in the rebuilding process, the articles say, and look on the precipice of competing. I’d argue that they were already there, but having Maddon in place certainly won’t hurt.
Some of the latest on the new man in charge of the big league team …
- The rumored contract for Maddon, from multiple sources, is five years and $25 million. No one is saying definitively that this is what Maddon will be getting (which is why I’ve not yet discussed the contract too much), but that seems to be everyone’s general sense. That’s in line with the top managerial salaries in baseball, and a five-year commitment is understandable for a big name like Maddon. Contract particulars will come out eventually – anyone else wonder if Maddon will have an opt-out built in?
- We knew that once the hiring/firing combo was official, the issue of tampering would come to the fore. Theo Epstein’s statement about the Maddon courting process seemed designed, in small part, to blunt that attack. Epstein noted that the Cubs learned of the possibility that Maddon would become available last Thursday – a day before the news became public – and then reached out to MLB to confirm. Only after MLB confirmed the opt-out, and then after speaking face-to-face with Renteria on Friday, the Cubs began pursuing Maddon. If that order of events is accurate – and there’s no provable back-channeling before Maddon actually opted out on, apparently, Thursday – then there can be no tampering charge. In order to prove tampering, Tampa Bay would have to show that the Cubs discussed employment with Maddon before he’d opted out. The Cubs are pretty clearly saying that did not happen. I’d add that as of the subsequent Saturday (a week ago today), Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, was saying publicly that the Cubs had not yet spoken with Maddon’s camp.
- The Rays, however, believe the contact between the sides started before Maddon had actually opted out of his deal, according to Marc Topkin. Hence, they’re still mulling a tampering charge. If filed, MLB would investigate, although it’s unclear what kind of power they have (Buster Olney suggests they could get phone and email records), and it’s also unclear what the punishment could be. There’s little precedent here, and it is within MLB’s discretion to make things right, if they believe there was tampering. If there’s anything to the allegations, we could see some kind of settlement, where the Cubs pay a fine or send a player to Tampa Bay. Ken Rosenthal speculated that the Rays could seek Javier Baez or Addison Russell as punishment, which is akin to getting the electric chair for stealing a pack of Twizzlers. That will not happen, but some kind of punishment is theoretically possible.
- In the end, I doubt this goes anywhere, given the difficulty in proving tampering, and the fact that the Cubs’ and Maddon’s timelines appear credible. Recall: when word first broke of the opt-out on Friday, and then Cubs rumors swirled immediately, things looked bad for the Cubs. If Maddon had just opted out Friday afternoon, and the Cubs were already a front-runner for his services, that looks like there were conversations before Friday. Uh oh. And, as it turns out, maybe there were conversations before Friday … but Maddon had opted out before Friday. Suddenly, it looks like the news was simply lagging the facts, and a presumption of tampering based solely on the timeline no longer makes sense. We may never know the full truth here. Could just be sour grapes by the Rays. Could be that the Cubs skated too close to the line of what constitutes making contact with Maddon about a job. We’ll see if Tampa Bay pursues tampering charges. There’s no way they do it unless they feel pretty strongly about their case.
- As for Rick Renteria, there’s still a slim chance that he could be managing in 2015:
Terry Ryan, the #Twins GM, is now considering whether to bring in Rick Renteria for an interview for their managerial opening.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 31, 2014
- Given the Twins’ youth, and rebuilding situation, it sure seems like they couldn’t find a better candidate suddenly available, right? Renteria was already a highly sought-after managerial candidate last year, and now he’s got a year of developmental and managerial experience to add onto the pile of baseball experience that preceded it. Here’s hoping Renteria gets a legit shot at that gig.
- From BN’er Dylan in the comments yesterday, a fun look ahead:
He's coming. (BN'er Dylan with the photoshopping skillz.) pic.twitter.com/ONIQtWdz5X
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) November 1, 2014