There is some speculation that the Chicago Cubs could pay dearly for their unseemly handling of the Joe Maddon situation.
According to Fox Sports, the Tampa Bay Rays believe the Cubs tampered with Maddon while he was still a member of their organization. They plan to argue that Chicago urged him to opt out of his Rays pact with the promise of a five-year, $25-million contract -- and that the size of Maddon's mega deal proves how valuable Maddon was to the Tampa Bay organization.
Fox's Ken Rosenthal believes the Rays may ask for one of the Cubs' top prospects as compensation, either Addison Russell or Javier Baez.
As evidence that the Cubs tampered, Rosenthal offered that Maddon had just purchased a new home in the Tampa Bay area and was planning to open a restaurant, moves that wouldn't make sense for a guy who had his eye on the exit. Rosenthal also mentioned that the only MLB manager position open at the time Maddon opted out was the one in Minnesota -- which wouldn't seem that appealing to a guy who wanted to have a chance to win in the near future. So it's odd that Maddon would walk away from a steady gig with no idea what the future held.
It was awfully suspicious that the Cubs, after everyone on the planet already knew that they hired Maddon, issued a statement to announce previous skipper Rick Renteria was being fired and -- what a coincidence -- Maddon just happened to become a free agent at the same time. Their public declaration of innocence, trying to lay out a time line that would prove their innocence, without being asked seems pretty fishy to me.
While penalizing a team by taking away top talent is something the National Hockey League has done in the past, this is unprecedented turf for Major League Baseball. On one hand, I would be shocked to see MLB punish the Cubs so harshly. But, on the other, Rosenthal points out that baseball recently hired an investigator to look into such matters. Why do that if they're not going to enforce the rules?
I had a lot of respect for Maddon with Tampa. I wished when Tony La Russa retired that the St. Louis Cardinals would have made a serious run at him. But it's pretty dirty for a MLB manager to steal another's job away. It's something that, as an unwritten rule, just isn't done. While I would expect such shifty dealings from the Cubs, I'm shocked that Maddon would be a part of it.
One way or another, I'm hoping this leads to some more bad baseball karma for the Wee Bears.