Report: Cubs hire Joe Maddon as manager

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Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Rays with one season remaining and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’s agreed to a deal to become the Cubs’ new manager.

Chicago technically has a manager under contract in Rick Renteria, who was hired last offseason, but Maddon’s track record in Tampa Bay was apparently enough to convince president Theo Eptein and general manager Jed Hoyer to make a change.

No word yet on the money involved, but several reports had Maddon seeking a five-year, $25 million contract. An official announcement likely wouldn’t be made until after the World Series, as MLB frowns on that.

Maddon had a .517 winning percentage in nine seasons as Rays manager, including 90-plus wins in five of the last seven seasons and an overall winning percentage of .552 during that seven-year span. He leaves Tampa Bay following a disappointing 77-85 season and with the organization in a state of flux thanks to a weakened farm system and Andrew Friedman’s move to the Dodgers.

UPDATE: Several local Chicago reporters, plus Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, are all reporting that no deal is done even if the two sides are likely to wind up together. Whether that’s the Cubs being told to hold off on anything official or Heyman jumping the gun is unclear.

Stephen Strasburg homers, knocks in five runs vs. Braves

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Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.

The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:

  • Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
  • Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
  • Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
  • Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
  • Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)

Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.

Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.