Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein says the team has no problem with Major League Baseball investigating whether the team illegally tampered with Joe Maddon before he became the team’s manager.
Almost as soon as Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract on Oct. 24 with Tampa Bay, there was speculation that he might end up with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Chicago Cubs. Both teams had managers in place at the time.
Former Rays executive Andrew Friedman left the club to take over the Dodgers the week before and said that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would return for another season.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria was fired two weeks later and then Maddon agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal to take over the team. Epstein admitted he was wrong in the way the team went about firing Renteria, who was let go after the team went 73-89 last season.
"We welcome the MLB investigation," Epstein said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "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."
The Cubs have missed the playoffs in each of the last six seasons and are focused on free agency and the renovation of Wrigley Field. Epstein says the team can make a splash in free agency because they have payroll flexibility and good young players to build around.
“We said we're going to be aggressive over the next 15 months and look for opportunities to get better," Epstein said. "It's probably the first time agents can come into our suites without having to look both ways to make sure no one sees them coming in. We're no longer the runt of the litter, I guess."
- Scooby Axson