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.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.