Crazy theory: Joe Maddon as the Dodgers general manager?

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This is all just me messing around in my own head, not anything that is based on rumors, reports or anything real. But it just occurred to me that Joe Maddon becoming the Dodgers next general manager might make a lot of sense.

Many people have speculated that Maddon would follow Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles and become the Dodgers next manager. But just recently Friedman said he was committed to Don Mattingly. Maddon, for his part, is saying he has no interest in the Dodgers job. Now, sure, take that with a grain of salt because a week ago he said he had no interest in leaving Tampa Bay, but what if he’s being honest and he has bigger things in mind?

If Friedman were to name Maddon his GM, he accomplishes a couple of things. First, he has a trusted lieutenant in the organization. Second, he has a ready replacement for Don Mattingly waiting in the wings if the Dodgers falter in 2015. Heck, it’s a pretty convenient setup, actually, in that it gives Friedman cover to mess with and re-tool the Dodgers over the next year with the focus remaining on Mattingly. If and when the Dodgers struggle in 2015, Mattingly is canned and Maddon takes over amid talk about how a change in tone was needed.

As for the mechanics, no, Maddon is not exactly like the modern general managers in the game, especially those in more analytically-minded organizations. He’s a baseball guy, not an MBA or numbers guy. But he has played well with Friedman, obviously, and it’s not like Friedman and his staff won’t be hands-on when it comes to the baseball operations things with which Maddon has less experience. Maddon can be the general “change the philosophy of the organization” guy. That’s pretty much his jam anyway. He’s like Phil Jackson in that way, for better or worse.

The wrinkle, of course, is that it’s a pretty crummy way to treat Don Mattingly. Who, if such a thing came to pass, may not stand for it anyway and might just quit. Alternatively, the 2015 Dodgers may win a lot of games anyway, in which case moving Mattingly may be a tough trick. But then again, winning is the whole point, and Maddon would be a pretty well-paid GM who, if he missed managing, could always go someplace else to do it again eventually.

Call it a Bobby Cox move. Call it a Greg Poppovich. But way weirder and unexpected things have happened in the past. Heck, Maddon opting out of his deal with the Rays is one of them.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.