The news that Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays generated an instant buzz in the industry and the whole world is speculating where the 60-year-old manager will land – if he manages at all during the 2015 season.
Currently the Minnesota Twins are the only team with a managerial position open, but they appear to be set with their candidates. Big market teams like the New York Yankees, the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox have all declared they aren’t interested. And even though the Los Angeles Dodgers have publicly stated they want to maintain Don Mattingly on their role, they are expected to test the waters in the Maddon race.
Meanwhile, the Cubs haven’t said anything, but plenty of industry sources have said Maddon could land in Chicago. So the previous teams reluctance to enter the race has the Cubs as the team everyone’s talking about. Rick Renteria is under contract through 2016, and while he did a good job in terms of development, the Cubs can’t be counted out as Maddon is simply too talented to pass up.
Even though the Cubs haven’t expressed interest, they should do everything in their power to try to land Maddon. He’s too accomplished and too good of an opportunity to not at least thoroughly look into. He managed to take the Rays to the playoffs four times in a nine-year period – often doing big things without a big budget – and he established a winning culture in a franchise that wasn’t used to be part of the contending picture in the American League.
Maddon has also been quite successful with young players, something the Cubs have in abundance right now. He seems to be the perfect person to show youngsters like Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant how to handle themselves in The Show and to teach them, ultimately, how to get things done to win.
Another reason why Maddon could be a perfect target for the Cubs is his relationship with David Price. Even though the left hander won’t be a free agent until the end of the next season, Price appears to fit the timeline of the Cubs – they’re expected to be a serious playoff contender that year – and his addition could be a big impact to a rotation that expects to have Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and possibly one of the big free agents of this year’s crop of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields.
Both Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein know Maddon very well from their days in Boston, and they’re both heavy into advanced stats and sabermetrics, something Maddon also relies on. It appears to be a match made in heaven, and while a decision would have to be made regarding Rick Renteria’s future, the Cubs need to give their best shot to land the former Tampa Bay skipper. After missing out on Joe Girardi last year, Maddon could give the Cubs the boost they need to start the offseason firing on all cylinders.
That’s exactly what the team needs heading into a 2015 season where the organization is expected to take a big leap, both on and off the field.