There are two major reasons that Tampa Bay Rays fans can be mad about Joe Maddon leaving the team. They can be upset at Maddon for asking for too much money or chastise Matt Silverman for not doing everything he can to keep this best manager the Rays have ever seen. However, it is not just Rays fans that are mad about Maddon’s actions in the last week.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News talked to MLB managers and they were almost unanimously furious with Maddon for pursuing the Chicago Cubs’ manager job. The reason was that Maddon’s actions were going to take the opportunity of a lifetime away from current Cubs skipper Rick Renteria.
"“The whole industry is talking about what a classless act (this is),” said one high-ranking major league executive.“I certainly know that at the winter meetings, some of the older (managers), they’re going to think it looks real bad to go after someone else’s job,” said one current MLB skipper, whose team was not linked to Maddon after the former Tampa Bay manager opted out of his Rays contract last week."
Similar to above, the blame in this situation rests on both Maddon and the Cubs. Maddon could have made it clear that he was not going to go after an occupied manager job while the Cubs should not have talked to Maddon when they already had a manager. But wait a second–isn’t this the opposite of the way that baseball has been for the last 40 years?
In December of 1975, free agency began in major league baseball and much of the game’s sentimentality began to depart. Even if you had a solid homegrown player at a position, suddenly it was possible to acquire a better option without giving up any player or prospect. With that in mind, players lose starting jobs every offseason because there is an attractive free agent available at their position. For instance, the Seattle Mariners had a solid second baseman in Nick Franklin, but no one complained when he was sent down to the minor leagues when they signed Robinson Cano.
When a better option comes along at any position and a general manager thinks that signing him is a good allotment of resources, he will do everything in his power to agree to terms with him. Why should managers be any different? The Cubs deemed Joe Maddon an upgrade over Rick Renteria even though he will be paid more and they are still on the hook for Renteria’s salary. Since they believed that, bringing in Maddon was a no-brainer, and only antiquated baseball convention says otherwise.
This Joe Maddon situation shows that free agency for the best managers has finally arrived. Every skipper in baseball has to recognize that if his team sees a better fit on the market, he could soon be looking for another job.