Theo Epstein denies latest Joe Maddon tampering charges


With Chicago Cubs nation in full-blown rejoicing mode following this afternoon’s introductory press conference for manager Joe Maddon, team president of baseball operations gave at least a few moments’ time to the rumors and accusations that he and members of the front office lured Maddon from the Tampa Bay Rays.

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According to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, Epstein denied the accusations Monday – something that Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, has done on multiple occasions since his client left the Rays after utilizing an opt-out clause in his contract following the departure of Andrew Friedman last month.

"“It’s just wholly inaccurate,” Epstein said. “There’s nothing to it. If we keep seeing stuff in print, then we’re going to respond at some point. For now, we’ll just take it day-by-day. But there was absolutely no tampering whatsoever.”"

No official charges have been filed by the Rays of yet, but it still remains to be seen if they will materialize in the wake of the introduction of Maddon in Chicago.

Reports indicated that Maddon and the Rays talked an extension for almost a week before the 60-year-old made the decision to opt out of his contract, at which point, the Cubs became one of his primary suitors – although an array of opportunities were made available to him. Epstein said Monday that until he got clearance from Major League Baseball, he did not reach out to Maddon’s camp.

"“The first thing I did when I got the e-mail,” Epstein said, “I reached out to Dan Halem – (Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of labor relations) – to confirm that it was a real clause and that he had really exercised it and he had opted out."

Adding to the controversy was the firing of now-former Cubs manager Rick Renteria – who just weeks prior to Maddon’s hiring was praised by the Chicago front office. However, Maddon’s unexpected availability proved to be too much for Epstein to resist and after talking with both men – Chicago moved forward with pursuing a deal with Maddon.

"“Any time you have a chance to get Joe Maddon, you do it. Maybe it was a year before we anticipated we could get a manager with more of a track record, (but) he was available now.”"