The Chicago Cubs have fired manager Rick Renteria, clearing the way for the team to hire former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
In a statement, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the team informed Renteria of Maddon's candidacy last week and told him that it is making "a change" on Friday.
Renteria went 73-89 this season in his first year as Chicago's manager. He 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 exercised an out clause in his contract with the Rays last Friday, leaving him free to sign with any other team. Maddon's agent said Maddon was prepared to sit out the 2015 season if necessary.
When Maddon opted out, it was speculated that he would follow longtime Rays general manager and vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hired Friedman as their president the week before Maddon opted out. But Friedman reiterated immediately that manager Don Mattingly would return next season.
While Epstein confirmed that the team has pursued Maddon and that his availability was the reason for firing Renteria, the Cubs president made no reference to Maddon joining the Cubs in the statement released Friday. The announcement that Maddon would be introduced on Monday came just hours after the firing.
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.
The Cubs have finished in last place in the National League Central in each of the last two seasons but have multiple young 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.
- Ben Estes