Joe Maddon opted out of his contract as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. In nine seasons and a 754-705 record, Maddon was the winningest manager in Rays history. In 2008, Maddon shocked the baseball world by leading the Rays to an AL pennant. The Rays would also make post-season appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
However, 2014 was a trying year for the Rays. After a horrible 24-42 start, the Rays went 29-13 to get within striking distance of .500 by the end of July. But then at the trade deadline, the Rays dealt Cy Young winner David Price to the Tigers and went 24-30 the rest of the way. The Rays finished in fourth place in the AL East, 19 games back for the Orioles.
Earlier this month, Rays GM and VP Andrew Friedman became the CEO of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers (see our resident Rays fan Larry Thornberry’s take on the situation here). In light of this move could Maddon be LA bound? Of course, Don Mattingly has a year left on his contract. The Dodgers are saying all the right things about standing by Mattingly, but if they are 10 games back by the middle of June then Mattingly might find himself out of work. I wonder if Mattingly will insist on getting an extension or threaten to walk.
Even if Maddon doesn’t wear Dodger blue, he’ll be in another dugout sooner or later. Maddon has influenced the game profoundly with his use of the shift. I also think his themed road trips were great for building team comraderie and an alternative to hazing rookies.
As for the Rays, my guess would be that longtime bench coach Dave Martinez will be the Rays new manager. That is unless Martinez follows Maddon and Friedman out the door.
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