Well, this will be pleasant.
Joel Sherman reports that the Tampa Bay Rays are indeed pursuing tampering charges against the Chicago Cubs for their hiring of former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Their claim, according to Sherman, is what we’ve discussed all along: absent the Cubs telling Maddon they would pay him a lot of money to be their manager, Maddon would not have opted out of his deal with the Rays. Because there’s no way Maddon could have possibly known that the Rays’ final three-year, $9 million extension offer to him (per Sherman) was woefully under market.
MLB will now investigate, and the Rays better hope they turn up something showing even the whiff of impropriety, because, at this point, this looks like the worst kind of sour grapes.
For the Cubs’ and Maddon’s part, they’ve consistently told the same story since day one: the Cubs found out about Maddon’s opt out after it happened, confirmed that fact with MLB, and then reached out to Maddon’s agent (after he’d already been contacted by 10 other teams). Cubs President Theo Epstein has indicated that the club has nothing to hide, and they would welcome an investigation if it comes. Well, here it comes.
Hopefully this will be resolved quickly and without issue, though I’m not holding my breath on the “quickly” part. We’ll see if MLB’s investigation turns up anything. The punishments for tampering have been few and far between, so it’s probably too early to speculate about what could happen here, though the theoretical possibilities involve fines, loss of players or picks, and/or suspensions.