Joe Maddon is the new Angels manager

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UPDATE, 11:38 AM: It’s official. The Angels have announced that Joe Maddon has been hired and has agreed to a three-year contract. There will be a press conference next week.

9:54 AM: Jon Heyman reports that the Angels are close to a deal with former Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon.

Not a shock.

Ever since Maddon left the Cubs it’s been strongly suspected that the Angels wanted him and that he wanted to work for them. Indeed, it was only when it became clear that the Cubs would let Maddon walk that the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after only one year on the job.

Maddon, 65, spent 31 years in the Angels organization as a player, scout and minor and major league coach before moving into managing at the big league level with the Tampa Bay Rays, leading them to the 2008 AL pennant. After that, of course, he moved on to the Cubs where he led them to a World Championship in 2015.

The Angels job is not going to be an easy one for Maddon and wouldn’t be easy for anyone else for that matter. The club has posted four straight losing seasons despite employing the best player in the game in Mike Trout. Pitching has been a major problem and it will take considerable work, likely over multiple seasons, for that to turn around. And that’s before one takes into account the current scandal rocking the organization in the wake of Tyler Skaggs’ death, which has led to an ongoing legal investigation and general turmoil.

Still, an organization in crisis is better served with a strong leader, and Maddon’s reputation in that regard is plain. It’s also a plus that he, quite clearly, wants to be in Anaheim. All of which is to say that this will be a good hire for the Angels, even if the club faces challenges that merely hiring a good manager cannot address.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.