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Rob Manfred: Decision on Joe Maddon tampering charge before season

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that the decision on the tampering charge filed by the Tampa Bay Rays against the Chicago Cubs in November that involves manager Joe Maddon will come before the beginning of the regular season.

Manfred and MLB's Department of Investigations are looking into whether the Cubs contacted Maddon about coming to Chicago before he had opted out of his deal with Tampa Bay.

If the Cubs are found to have tampered, it would be a violation of Major League rules that prevent teams from contacting personnel under contract with other clubs. The penalty for tampering is compensation in terms of a player, draft picks and/or money.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"As you know, it’s easy to do a quick investigation and reach a quick decision," Manfred said at a news conference. "Our preference here, because it’s an important issue in terms of the way the clubs interact with each other, was to do a very, very thorough investigation and make sure we make the right decision."

Maddon opted out of his contract with the Rays on Oct. 24 and signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Cubs later in the month.

Cubs president Theo Epstein  said in a statement that the team found out about Maddon's opt-out on Oct. 23 and contacted the commissioner's office to confirm.

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Maddon left Tampa Bay with one year remaining on his contract. In nine seasons with the Rays, Maddon went 754-705 and led the Rays to four postseason appearances. They reached the World Series in 2008 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. Maddon was named the AL Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011.

The Cubs open the season against the St. Louis Cardinals at home on April 5.

- Sarah Barshop