The Chicago Cubs introduced Joe Maddon as their next manager at a press conference on Monday.
Maddon struck a confident tone in his responses to reporters' questions, saying he knows the Cubs are going to be "very successful" with their current collection of players and that he's going to "talk playoffs, talk World Series" as soon as the 2015 season.
Maddon: "In my mine's eye, I am going to be talking playoffs this year."— Fred B. Mitchell (@kicker34) November 3, 2014
"He's the combination of everything we look for in a manager."--Theo Epstein on Joe Maddon— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) November 3, 2014
In response to a question about the challenge of helping the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908, Maddon said, "The challenge is so outstanding, how could you not want to be in this seat?"
He ended the press conference by thanking the Tampa Bay Rays, the team he managed for the previous nine seasons, and complimenting the organization and its players and employees.
The Cubs announced they had hired Maddon last Friday just hours after announcing they had fired manager Rick Renteria. The team said Maddon signed a five-year contract with the team, worth at least $25 million total, according to the Chicago Tribune. Maddon had exercised an out clause in his contract with the Rays the previous Friday, leaving him free to sign with any other team.
Maddon also revealed Monday he wasn't aware he had the out clause until someone informed him of it after longtime Rays general manager and vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman left to become the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While it was initially speculated that Maddon might be interested in following Friedman to the Dodgers, Friedman reiterated that manager Don Mattingly would return next season.
Though the Cubs hired Renteria just one year ago and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in September that Renteria would return in 2015, it seemed clear the team was interested in replacing him with Maddon. Renteria said last Monday that he was aware of the speculation about his position but that he was focused on his job as manager.
In a statement announcing Renteria's firing, Epstein said the team informed Renteria of Maddon's candidacy the week before and told him that it was making "a change" on Friday.
Renteria went 73-89 this season in his first year as Chicago's manager and had two years remaining on his contract. Each of the team's two previous managers, Dale Sveum and Mike Quade, lasted just two seasons in the role.
Maddon compiled a 754-705 record in nine years in Tampa Bay. He won two American League manager of the year awards and took the Rays to the only four playoff berths in franchise history, including a World Series appearance in 2008.
Maddon joins a Cubs team that has finished in last place in the National League Central the last two seasons and hasn't made the playoffs since 2008. But Chicago has several prospects and young players prepared to make an impact on the major league roster, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and 2014 All-Stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
Epstein has said the team will be active in free agency.
- Ben Estes