UPDATE UP TOP: Theo Epstein says this is “totally baseless.” Original post follows.
I’m gonna immediately have to go back to read exactly what Joe Maddon said, because this report is confusing me on a first impression.
Our @dan_bernstein's source tells him the #Cubs are unhappy with Joe Maddon's public discussion of his contract status. "They're unhappy that Joe himself did not honor the handshake agreement…" to not discuss his contract status. Listen for more details: https://t.co/tJn6KQF40G pic.twitter.com/NiB7vXMI5k
— Bernstein & McKnight (@Bernstein_McK) August 13, 2019
To be sure, the Cubs’ front office has always been tight-lipped about contract discussions – whether it is themselves, coaches, or players, they just don’t like to talk about it – so I’m sure they aren’t thrilled any time it becomes a story. That said, Maddon’s impending free agency has been a story since last offseason, when we all predicted the conversation would drag throughout the year. How could it not?
Moreover, for the most part, Maddon simply said the kind of stuff you’d expect an impending free agent player to say: I like it here, I expect to be here, etc.
The parts that plausibly could have irritated the Cubs: (1) the fact that Maddon said it won’t be about wins and losses (if it were, in his view, he’d already be extended), and will instead be about how they all work together; and/or (2) Maddon specifically saying “a couple more years at least” when talking about how long he expected to stick around. Maybe there had already been some discussions about that length of time (because it overlaps with the contracts in the front office and team control for the core), and the Cubs didn’t want that out?
I suppose there’s enough I don’t know about what could be going on behind the scenes that Maddon got into some things that he shouldn’t have, and maybe the front office doesn’t want to feel like they’re getting public pressure to lock Maddon up. It’s a little surprising, nevertheless, to see the Cubs’ half of this spilling out into the public discourse – that only serves to perpetuate the story (whatever the problem with it is) further.
For our part, I think most fans have come to accept that Maddon is one of the best managers in the game and is arguably the most successful manager in Cubs history, but also there’s an evaluation process that has to take place about whether he’s still the right guy here at the right time going forward. I’m content to let that process play out later in the season – might as well get as much data as possible before making any kind of decision.
UPDATE: Here’s the full set of comments from Dan Bernstein about the Cubs being “pissed,” starting at about the 10:15 mark: