After nine seasons as Rays manager, the one that took them from the laughing stock of baseball to perennial winners shocked not only local sports in the Tampa Bay region, but the baseball community when it was announced that Joe Maddon had opted out of the final year of his contract to manage the Rays, effective immediately.
There had been some speculation that Maddon would leave the Rays and follow former executive vice president of baseball operations/general manager Andrew Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that was put to rest when Friedman said that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would remain in 2015.
Maddon also squashed the rumor when expressed his commitment that he was happy in Tampa Bay and had no intention of leaving and that he also expected to sign an extension.
Matt Silverman who took over as Friedman’s position as executive vice president of baseball operations/general manager told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on October 16 that he expects Maddon to be with the team in 2015 and beyond.
However, there was no indication an extension would be completed this off-season as Silverman went on to say, “We’ve been comfortable with Joe managing in the final year of his contract. It may not be ideal, but it’s always a possibility,”
Maddon’s opt-out clause went into effect when Friedman left for Los Angeles on October 14 and Matt Silverman explained to Bill Chastain of MLB.com the opt-out clause. “In Joe’s contract, he had the ability to opt out if certain events took place, and one of those was if Andrew Friedman wasn’t an employee of the club,
“In the last several days, we worked with Joe to try to figure out a contract extension and we engaged and made many offers and it became clear from his responses that it was not an exercise that was going to lead to an outcome, and so he opted out yesterday (Thursday) and we are turning the page to begin a process to look for a new manager,” Silverman said.
Maddon, a two-time recipient of the Manager of the Year (2008 and 2011) led the team to a World Series (2008), playoff appearances in 2010, 2011, and 2013 along with a 754-705 record during his tenure.
“We went back and forth a couple of times, and it didn’t want to work out,” said Maddon. Maddon was due to make $2 million in this the final season of a three-year deal signed in 2012.
On Friday morning, Tampa Bay Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg issued the following statement regarding Joe Maddon’s contract situation:
“Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out in his current contract, a contract which was not scheduled to expire until after the 2015 season. 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 opportunities throughout Major League Baseball. He will not be managing the Rays in 2015. Joe has been our manager for nine seasons, and the foundation of success laid during his tenure endures. We thank him for all that he’s meant to the organization.”
Maddon said that he was unaware of the opt-out clause and that it wasn’t on his radar, nor did he remember or realize that he had this clause in his contract and that there was a a two-week window to make a decision.
“I have been doing this for a long time,” Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times.”I have never had this opportunity to research my employment on my terms. Never, never, never. And I think anybody given the same set of circumstances would do the same thing.”
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