There are only 24 games left in the 2014 season and as strange as it may sound, these may be the final 24 games for Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Marc Topkin recently brought the subject up in a longer column on the final month and the upcoming off-season.
Here’s another thought: Joe Maddon’s contract is up after 2015, and the Rays likely will seek to work out a new deal before the season. But what if they decide they want to make a change, or don’t want to pay Maddon what he may rightfully seek after working for years at well below what top managers get? Maddon, arguably, could be one of their most valued trade commodities.
Maddon is in the second year of a 3-year deal and most teams prefer not to have a manager leading a team in the final year of their contract. However, the Rays have gone that route with Maddon before. In 2009, Maddon was in the final year of his contract before signing an extension in late May.
Still, the reason why the idea of trading Maddon is something that we should take seriously is because this is exactly how the Rays operate.
When a player starts to get expensive, it doesn’t matter how good they are, at some point the Rays are probably going to trade that player and replace him with a cheaper option.
Maddon is making approximately $2 million per season, considerably less than what some of the other top managers are paid. Mike Scioscia of the Angels is making approximately $5 million per season on a 10-year contract and Joe Girardi of the Yankees makes about $4 million per year.
If Maddon was a free agent, he would probably be able to sign a contract with another team for $25-30 million over five years.
Even if the Rays are willing to pay Maddon $4-5 million per year and give him a 4- or 5-year contract, that would still be below market value. Chances are they will offer even less. Will Maddon continue to give the Rays a discount for the sake of remaining in his comfort zone?
Complicating matters is the presence of Dave Martinez, who by most accounts, is ready to be a big league manager and will likely make considerably less than $2 million when he finally lands a job.
The Rays could trade Maddon and promote Martinez and at the same time add a couple of prospects and save up to $4 million next season.
But would the Rays really risk losing one of the best managers in baseball over what is essentially the cost of a decent middle reliever? Then again, would that really be so surprising?