In quite a surprise, the Tampa Bay Rays have cut bench coach Dave Martinez from their managerial pool. Martinez, who had served under Joe Maddon since 2008, is not even one of the three finalists for the job (Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash, and Raul Ibanez).
“The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult,” President Matt Silverman said, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s played a key role in our organization’s evolution, and he’s done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.”
Although Martinez is under contract for 2015, it seems highly unlikely that he’ll be sticking around – both because of the decision to pass him over, and because the new manager may want to bring in his own staff.
If Martinez does leave, the obvious question is: will he come to the Cubs?
Topkin mentions that possibility, specifically, after speculating that Martinez will be offered another job in the organization for 2015, or will be allowed to leave.
It may seem obvious that the Cubs will look to add Martinez, not only because of his previous work with Maddon, but also because the Cubs interviewed Martinez for their own managerial opening just last year (so, presumably, there’s some mutual respect there). But there are some issues and questions to resolve.
First of all, we’re assuming that Martinez will immediately look for another coaching job, and that he’ll want to come to the Cubs under Maddon to do it. Yes, I think that’s a fair assumption, but we may not actually know for sure until something happens.
Similarly, we’re assuming that the Cubs will immediately look to add Martinez. Technically, presently, the Cubs have just one opening on the coaching staff – quality assurance coach (UPDATE: Until right now). It’s possible that a couple other spots could open up, but, once again, we may not actually know for sure until something happens.
And then the biggy: does MLB’s tampering investigation into the Cubs’ hiring of Maddon have any impact? There shouldn’t be any direct relationship there, especially if it’s the Rays deciding to pass over Martinez and then giving him the option to leave. But, if they’re bitter enough to push for tampering charges, maybe they’ll also be bitter enough to tell Martinez that he can take another job in the organization or take any other job in baseball except with the Cubs. Martinez is under contract with the Rays for 2015.
My gut says the tampering stuff will not impact where Martinez goes. Maybe I just assume the best in people, but I can’t see the Rays trying to cut off Martinez’s options – assuming they had that ability in the first place – out of spite. He’s been a long-time coach there, is well-respected, and it was the Rays deciding to pass on him, not the other way around.
So, in the end, it’s probably going to come down to whether there’s mutual interest between the Cubs/Maddon and Martinez. There was a lot to like about Martinez back when the Cubs were conducting managerial interviews last year, and clearly the infrastructure in Tampa Bay had been working. It seems like it would be a pretty good get to fit Martinez into the Cubs’ mix somehow.