Tampa Bay Rays’ head coach Joe Maddon, who took Tampa from a struggling expansion team to annual contender, has opted out of his contract and will no longer manage the Rays effective immediately.
Maddon, whose contract runs through 2015, has previously stated that he is happy at the helm of the Rays and excepted to stay through the duration of his contract. There’s speculation that the departure of general manager Andrew Friedman may have impacted the decision. Friedman left Tampa Bay to take the president of baseball operations position with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There has been speculation that Maddon plans to follow Friedman to the Dodgers, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that is not in consideration at this time. He was able to opt-out as soon as Friedman left for Los Angeles and Heyman reported that there was some friction between the Rays front office and Maddon once Friedman departed.
During Friedman’s introductory press conference, he told reporters that current Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly, would “definitely” return for the Dodgers in 2015, quashing any momentum the Maddon to Los Angeles rumors had.
Stu Sternberg, the Rays’ principal owner, made a statement Friday regarding Maddon’s decision to opt out of his contract. “We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision. As of yesterday afternoon, Joe enabled himself to explore the opportunities throughout Major League Baseball.”
The Rays were 754-705 with Maddon as manager from 2006-14. He led Tampa Bay to two American League East titles, four MLB postseason berths, and the 2008 American League pennant. He’s popular with players but was still able to compete in the tough AL East division despite having one of Major League Baseball’s smallest payrolls. Going forward, Maddon will have no problem with suitors now that he’s no longer under contract.