The Chicago Cubs’ President and general manager Theo Epstein may be in trouble as Major League Baseball has decided to conduct a formal investigation into the circumstances revolving how the team signed its new manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon is a highly regarded manager who turned around the perennial losers, the Tampa Bay Rays, and even took them to a World Series.
In baseball the GM runs the team, makes trades, signs free agents and hires and fires the managers. The manager runs the club and makes the on field decisions. Cubs GM Epstein signed Maddon to a five year $25 million contract last month.
The problem for Epstein, however, comes from the fact that Maddon still had one year left on his contract with his previous team the Tampa Bay Rays. But he also had an out clause which let him leave if a member of the team’s management left the club. That happened when the Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman jumped ship for the Dodgers.
But Tampa Bay says that it is not so simple as that. The team argues that they were still in the middle of negotiations with Maddon to re-sign him to a new contract and that, under his opt out clause, he had to give them at least two weeks in which to do so. The Cubs, the Rays say, poached Maddon at a time when Tampa still had exclusive rights to him by talking to Maddon even before he exercised his option to leave the Rays.
If the Rays’ accusation is true then it would mean that the Cubs violated MLB’s rule 3(K), which forbids teams to talk to personnel under contract with another club.
But Theo Epstein is not worried. “We welcome the MLB investigation, ” he said Monday night at the general managers meetings. “As we said last week there’s no tampering whatsoever, and I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our names and get this over and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and welcome it.”
The Cubs have agreed to cooperate in full with MLB and to hand over any and all information that it asks for.
“We’ve got nothing to hide, ” said Epstein.
Both Epstein and Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, have consistently denied that the Cubs Made Maddon any offers before the former Rays manager left that team.