Joe Maddon improves to .500 as Rays manager

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The Rays defeated the Orioles 4-1 on Friday night and remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and seven games up on the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card. While the playoffs look like a virtual-lock, there was some extra significance to Friday’s win. As Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times points out, Joe Maddon improved to 391-391 (.500) as manager of the Rays.

“Five hundred — that’s like the old days when 70 wins was considered
high. C’mon, give me a break,” Maddon said. “Who want to be .500?”

Maddon was speaking in jest, but consider for a minute that the Rays were 127-197 (.391) over his first two seasons. This includes a 101-loss season in 2006. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Rays are 264-194 (.576) under his watch.

“We’ve
just grown as an organization, talent-wise, depth-wise. It really
speaks to the job the front office has done and the scouting and
development departments. That’s really where this transition’s come
from. I happen to be the manager.”

If the Rays defeat the Orioles tonight, Maddon will have his first winning record as Rays manager since the team was 7-6 over the first 13 games of the 2006 season. It might not happen tonight, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’ll get there eventually.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.