Joe Maddon has easily been the most successful manager in the history of the Tampa Bay Rays, and it is not close. Not only is he the only person to get the Rays to the postseason, but he is the only one with a winning record. Maddon has helped the Rays accomplish something that they had never been able to do before his tenure – become a winning franchise.
Yet, Maddon is going to be 59 years old heading into the 2013 season, which presently makes him the seventh oldest manager in baseball. Even though he signed a three year extension to manage the Rays through 2015, one has to wonder how long Maddon will want to continue to manage. He would be 61 at the end of the contract, and may decide to follow other pursuits.
Presently, the Rays have Dave Martinez as their bench coach. A former outfielder who spent 15 seasons playing for nine different teams, Martinez is highly regards amongst baseball circles and is expected to be a future manager. Already, he had been interviewed by the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Cleveland Indians for managerial openings, but had been bypassed for other candidates.
Recently, older managers have taken on coaches who they have tabbed as their successor upon retirement. Joe Torre did this with Don Mattingly initially with the New York Yankees, then later with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bobby Cox had been grooming Fredi Gonzalez to take over as manager of the Atlanta Braves upon his retirement before Gonzalez became manager of the Florida Marlins. Once Gonzalez was fired from the Marlins, it appeared to be inevitable that he would take over for Cox, which occurred for the 2011 season. Since firing Terry Francona, the Boston Red Sox have been trying desperately to bring back John Farrell, who they likely considered the heir apparent should Francona leave.
Could the Rays take the same approach with Martinez, and make him the heir apparent to Maddon? Martinez has been with the Rays since October 11, 2007, which coincided with the Rays beginning their run of success. He knows the clubhouse, the culture, and the players; and even more importantly, the team knows him. The Rays players and front office know what to expect, and he would help bring continuity to a team that have flourished under Maddon’s watch.
Should Dave Martinez continue to be bypassed for other managerial openings, he may well end up as the next manager of the Rays when Maddon determines that it is time to move on.