Chicago Cubs appear to be the front-runner for Joe Maddon


Let the speculation begin.

Similarly to the rumor mill and whisperings that dominated Twitter last year when the Chicago Cubs underwent a managerial search that at one point included New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, but ultimately concluded with the hiring of Ricky Renteria, since Joe Maddon left the Tampa Bay Rays Friday afternoon, all signs – once again – seem to be pointing toward Chicago.

So with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays all reportedly out of the mix for the 60-year-old skipper, who is known for creating strong clubhouse chemistry with a mix of young and old players alike, seems to have a smaller field of potential fits. Other than Chicago, one of his potential destinations include the Minnesota Twins, a team that is still looking to fill its managerial vacancy.

In addition to the Cubs, multiple reports indicate that there are other suitors for Maddon, which makes sense, given his success in the small market teams he managed in Tampa Bay. However, just which teams are in the mix and willing to meet his financial demands remain to be seen.

According to David Kaplan (among countless others), the Cubs are the frontrunners at this point in time. The team has not issued any type of comment on Maddon – which has only stoked the fires further in Chicago, especially given teams like the Dodgers and Mets have publicly come out in support of their respective managers, Don Mattingly and Terry Collins. Thus far, Renteria, who has two more years left on his contract, has not received any type of public support from the organization.

In his first season at the helm of the Cubs, Renteria led the team to a 73-89 mark – avoiding a 90-loss season for the first time since 2010, a seven-game improvement over the year prior.

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Back in 2003, when Theo Epstein was at the helm of the Boston Red Sox, Maddon reportedly finished second in the team’s managerial search to Terry Francona, so there appears to be some familiarity between the two camps – and that is added to the fact that Maddon has worked almost exclusively as an American League East manager to this point.

The Cubs have been through such awkward encounters before, as in 2013, Epstein did little to calm worries for then-manager Dale Sveum late in the season, before ultimately firing him the day before the season ended. With that in mind, Chicago could very well stay quiet until the general managers meetings in a couple weeks – which means that the next few weeks could be interesting for Cubs’ fans.

All signs point to Maddon heading to Chicago to replace Renteria, given his experience and the winning culture he helped build in Tampa Bay with the Rays organization – which had been a perennial loser prior to his arrival – but for now, it’s the rumor mill and nothing more.