Rays considering filing tampering charges against Cubs for Joe Maddon situation

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The Cubs fired manager Rick Renteria yesterday, clearing the way for Joe Maddon to be introduced as his replacement on Monday. If you have followed this situation at all, you know that it’s been the worst kept secret in the game over the past couple of days. The Rays remain curious about how it came together so quickly, as Maddon just informed the club of his intention to step down last Thursday. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that the word “tampering” continues to be bandied about.

The Rays remain convinced that the Cubs enticed Maddon to opt out of the final year of his contract last week rather than reaching out afterward. As a result, they are still considering filing tampering charges or a complaint to get Major League Baseball to investigate the matter, with any potential compensation (A fine? A player?) determined by the commissioner’s office.

Maddon was well within his rights to opt out of his contract with the Rays, but the question is whether there was any contact with the Cubs before he did so. Cubs president Theo Epstein did his part to get out in front on the situation yesterday by issuing a detailed and lengthy statement to explain why Renteria was let go. Here’s part of it:

Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon – who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us – had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.

The Rays may ultimately decide that it’s not really worth the hassle and the drama involved. Tampering could be difficult to prove and the potential compensation is unlikely to be significant. Still, it’s hard to blame them for feeling suspicious, especially if they know more than has been made public. Filing a complaint with MLB would at least send a message that they (and other teams in the future) won’t be taken advantage of.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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