News is just coming down that former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has opted out of his contract with the Rays for next season & is now a complete free agent to sign wherever he may choose.
Quite possibly, the best situation could be with the Detroit Tigers.
Maddon has been beloved in Tampa Ray for the years he was down there. He took a franchise that was basically seen as useless & couldn’t draw any interest whatsoever into a team who was a playoff contender on a consistent basis & got to the World Series in 2008 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Maddon keeps a fun clubhouse & players absolutely love playing for him because he understands the players & understands that baseball is not more important than having fun & enjoying life.
At the same time, however, he knows how to manage with the best in the game & his situational managing is some of the best in all of baseball. Maddon is clearly the biggest free agent manager on the market & let’s be honest, most Tigers fans are just not sold on the idea that Brad Ausmus could be the long-term solution as the leader of the Tigers organization.
Ausmus was learning on the fly throughout the entire season, & while he did have to deal with star players recovering from major injuries in Justin Verlander & Miguel Cabrera, many Tigers fans were hard on Ausmus for how he didn’t always make the right decisions with the bullpen, particularly when Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan was struggling throughout the season until the end when he got his game back together.
Maddon could have those same issues, but with Verlander & Cabrera expected to be back to their usual forms & the fact that Maddon has the overall experience in winning & getting to the big series, the Detroit Tigers – particularly GM Dave Dombrowski – would be absolutely insane to not call up Maddon & gauge interest in a possible signing here.
Maddon has been rumored to not be heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where the new GM in Los Angeles came from the Rays organization. If Maddon isn’t making the trip to Los Angeles, which could be a tough situation with the big egos & some of the unrest that reportedly was taking place there, along with the craziness of managing in one of the biggest sports markets in the country, Detroit could be a great destination for Maddon, especially since he will have the chance to manage David Price this coming season.
Price, who played under Maddon in Tampa Bay before he was dealt to the Tigers during midseason, could possibly be persuaded into signing long-term with the Tigers organization after he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season if Maddon is here & is leading the team in a strong direction.
This is only going to get hotter as time goes on & as a devoted Tigers fan, I am very well aware that the window for this group of Tigers players is closing & closing fast. If this team doesn’t win a World Series in the next 2-3 years, the window could be closed & the idea of rebuilding could come into play with an older Verlander, Cabrera & Victor Martinez.
Keep your eye out.