Yesterday it was revealed that Major League Baseball is investigating the Cubs hiring of Joe Maddon, following up on the accusations from the Tampa Bay Rays that the Cubs tampered with their former manager. Later in the day, Cubs President Theo Epstein basically said “bring it on.” From Patrick Mooney at CSNChicago.com:
“We welcome the MLB investigation,” Epstein said. “As we said last week, there was no tampering whatsoever. I’d rather they investigate, so we can clear our names and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and we welcome it.”
That’s the sort of thing politicians who are in trouble say too, so take it for what it’s worth. But, no, there’s no way for any of us to know if the chronology Epstein laid out — 1. Maddon opted-out, 2. The Cubs were notified and checked with MLB, 3. The Cubs contacted Maddon — is true or false. I will say that, contrary to the implication of the Rays’ allegations, it would not take a giant risk on Maddon’s part to leave the Rays and then contact teams. He knew and everyone else knew he would be a hot property if he left Tampa Bay.
All of that said, I have no idea what the Rays’ end game is here. It’s not like the Maddon-Rays relationship could be repaired. It’s not like MLB is going to make the Cubs fire the manager they want. I suppose, yes, the Rays could get a draft pick or something thrown their way from the Cubs if there is some traction to their claim. But how many people are they going to piss off in the meantime? Maddon’s agent — Alan Nero and Octagon sports agency — represents ballplayers. Do they really want to mess with that for, like, a third round pick? Do they want to forever burn the Cubs as a trading partner?
Maybe they do. I don’t know. But I can’t see an end game here for the Rays that makes it worth all of this.