Joe Maddon, who last week opted out of his contract with the Tamp Bay Devil Rays, is close to a deal to become the Chicago Cubs’ new manager.
Once finalized, the contract is expected to make Maddon one of the highest paid managers in Major League Baseball. Maddon’s agent Alan Nero mentioned earlier this week that as many as 10 teams were interested in bringing the former Rays manager for a range of jobs including chief baseball officer. But Maddon preferred to manage and the Cubs seem the perfect fit.
Maddon took advantage of a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out as manager if Rays’ general manager Andrew Friedman left the team. Friedman left to become the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, which prompted the decision for Maddon to seek employment elsewhere, knowing he could make more money on a new deal.
The Chicago Sun-Times have speculated an official announcement will take place on Friday. The Cubs are first looking for resolution with their current manager Rick Renteria, who is still under contract to manage the Northsiders through the 2016 season, before finalizing the Maddon deal.
Theo Epstein, Cubs president, has been a distant admirer of Maddon, according to sources close to the organization. Chicago intends to make a handful of marquee moves in free agency this off-season and the impending Maddon signing symbolizes a huge start.
Maddon becomes the latest in the string of managers who hope to bring the Cubs their first title since 1908. With heaps of young talent already on the roster, several top prospects in their farm system and a very competent front office, Maddon will start with a good foundation to make the Cubs contenders. The Rays were 781-729 with Maddon as manager and qualified for the playoffs four times between 2008 and 2014 despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league.