Rays News

Joe Maddon Tampering Charges Are Exactly What Rays Needed

By Robbie Knopf

What helps your team more: having the best manager in baseball as opposed to an average one or having a top prospect instead of no prospect at all? Joe Maddon did his best to make the case for the former as he turned the Tampa Bay Rays into a perennial contender. That being said, getting a top prospect in return for nothing but their manager would be a major coup for the Rays.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that there is a real chance that the Chicago Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon while he was still under contract with the Rays, an action that would require them to give the Rays compensation if they are found guilty. In addition, that compensation would not be a fine or an irrelevant player, but a quite well-regarded prospect.

"Yet, even if baseball could prove that tampering occurred, what type of penalty would even be appropriate? This is where it gets interesting. The Rays could claim that the Cubs’ actions caused Maddon to opt out — and demand a player as compensation. A good player, too, considering that the Cubs value Maddon enough to give him what is certain to be a monster contract. Think Javier Baez. Or Addison Russell."

If the Rays somehow received Javier Baez or Addison Russell, that could change everything for their team. At the moment, the Rays’ don’t happen to need an infielder, but getting Baez or Russell could be exactly what the doctor ordered to help their offense. The Rays could use the versatility of Ben Zobrist to get Baez and his power regular at-bats–although his results in his first 229 plate appearances may make it a better idea to send him back to Triple-A for a few months. Russell, meanwhile, would likely be ready to take over a middle infield spot by the end of the season and would give the Rays even more confidence replacing Zobrist when he leaves as a free agent. Whichever one the Rays acquired, it would improve their outlook for 2015 and beyond by a significant margin.

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Maybe it isn’t realistic that the Rays will actually receive Javier Baez or Addison Russell. If they can prove that the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon, they will certainly ask for the moon, but then a negotiation would take place and the Cubs would try to give them less. Even if the Rays receive much less, though, as suggested by Buster Olney, they still could not complain. Andrew Friedman left and the Rays got nothing. Now, they would suddenly be getting something for their manager when no one expected them to.

The Rays’ dream scenario is to get Javier Baez or Addison Russell as compensation for Joe Maddon, but if the Rays get any sort of prospect, they can feel lucky. In a time of transition for their franchise, a building block for the future would be a great way for them to start the process of moving forward.