Of all the contracts given out by the Rays this off-season, the one that surprised us the most is the deal not given to Joe Maddon. On the heals of an AL Manager of the Year award, Maddon enters 2009 in the last year of his current contract. Few teams like to play a season with a manager that only has one year remaining on a deal. How often do you hear the phrase “free agent manager”?
John Romano tackles this very subject in his latest column…
He has no contract beyond this October. No promises, no guarantees, no commitments. And, at the moment, Joe Maddon also has no worries. He always has been a low-maintenance sort of guy and, contract extension or not, has no reason to worry about his future. Entering the fourth, and final, season of his original contract, Maddon says he could not be happier with Rays management.
Even if there is a lot of “trust flowing back and forth” as Maddon stated and even if there is a “great working relationship” as put forth by Andrew Freidman, the lack of a contract extension is a bit strange.
But it does look odd when you consider how willing the Rays have been to secure key assets with long-term deals. They love the cost certainty, and the idea of taking free agency out of the picture. So they have tied up the third baseman. The leftfielder. Two of the starting pitchers. Even a utility infielder…As for the manager, I would say he is pretty high up the list of potential free agents. His time for a long-term deal has not yet come, but I would hope it will soon.
We are not worried yet, but if the calendar pages start turning to the dog days of August and September and the Rays still haven’t extended Maddon’s contract, our liver will take the brunt of the punishment.
We don’t care how good the relationship is. What happens if the Yankees miss the playoffs again and Maddon is sitting out there as a free agent manager? We don’t doubt that Maddon would prefer to manage the Rays if all things are equal. But all things won’t be equal. Will Maddon be able to turn down the $5-7 million per season the Steinbrenners will almost certainly throw in his direction?
Manager Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays seem unconcerned about lack of a long-term deal [St. Pete Times]