Cubs bring in Maddon, let Renteria go
Two-time AL Manager of the Year had after successful stint with Rays
CHICAGO -- The Cubs dismissed Rick Renteria on Friday, and they will introduce Joe Maddon today as the 54th manager in franchise history -- and third in four seasons under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
The Cubs formally announced the hiring on Monday, revealing that Maddon had signed a five-year contract.
On Friday, about one hour after issuing a release with the news that Renteria had been let go, the Cubs announced a news conference Monday for Maddon, 60, to be held at the Cubby Bear bar near Wrigley Field. The ballpark is unavailable because of ongoing renovation work.
Renteria's dismissal comes nearly one year from when he was hired on Nov. 7. Epstein issued a detailed statement regarding the decision to part ways with Renteria and indicating that Maddon was next in line to lead the club on the field.
In his statement, Epstein said Renteria "deserved to come back for another season." The rookie manager was endorsed at the end of his first season at the helm. But Maddon's unexpected availability changed things.
"Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon -- who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us -- had become a free agent," Epstein said Friday in the statement. "We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe."
Epstein said there is "no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation," but felt they had to discuss matters with Renteria first.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer met with Renteria on Oct. 24 in San Diego to discuss the club's intentions. On Friday, Epstein said he and Hoyer told Renteria the Cubs were going to make a change.
In his first season, Renteria led the Cubs to a 73-89 record. He has two years remaining on his contract with the team.
Earlier this month, Epstein praised Renteria, saying the manager met many of the criteria laid out for him, such as developing a positive attitude, setting a good tone for the players and getting them to play hard. On Friday, Epstein said those statements were genuine, and they had every intention of continuing with Renteria until Maddon's unexpected free agency.
Maddon became available last week after he opted out of his contract with the Rays. In parts of 11 seasons as manager, Maddon has compiled a 781-729 record, including a trip to the World Series in 2008 with the Rays when he won the American League Manager of the Year Award. He also won the AL Manager of the Year Award in '11.
Maddon left the Rays after executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman's departure to the Dodgers, taking advantage of an opt-out clause to leave with one year and $1.85 million left on his contract. According to a source, he considered taking a year off from managing and moving to the broadcast booth.
Epstein admitted Renteria had some limitations with the Cubs' roster, such as relievers who were restricted because of past injuries and youngsters without much experience.
"He established an environment where our young players could continue to grow and feel support, and where they could learn how to be big leaguers, and where they could learn how to win," Epstein said of Renteria after the regular season ended.
Maddon will have the chance to be the one to guide the team to a World Series championship for the first time in more than 100 years. The Cubs have a much-improved roster since Epstein took over in October 2011, including All-Stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and highly regarded prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks.
Maddon will be Epstein's third manager in four years, following Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Renteria, and the first with extensive big league experience.
Even though the Cubs had been silent regarding Maddon, others have favored the move. Dick Vitale tweeted early congrats, saying, "Happy 4 Joe Maddon as they are going to love him in the Windy City -- Cubs r very lucky that they can get him as their leader!"
Happy 4 Joe Maddon as they are going to love him in the Windy City-Cubs r very lucky that they can get him as their leader! @TBTimes_Rays— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) October 30, 2014
It will be interesting to see who Maddon can add to the coaching staff, which was recently updated with the addition of John Mallee as hitting coach and former Cub Doug Dascenzo as first-base/outfield coach.
Maddon began his coaching career with the Angels in 1993 and worked under Buck Rodgers, Marcel Lachemann, John McNamara, Terry Collins and Mike Scioscia.
Epstein said they offered Renteria other positions with the Cubs, adding that he will "no doubt make an excellent Major League manager when given his next chance."
"Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him," Epstein said. "Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best."
The Cubs have not had a winning season since 2009, and most of the talk about the team this offseason has been about Wrigley Field, which is undergoing a $575 million renovation, beginning with the bleachers.
Epstein's job is rebuilding the Cubs.
"We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago," Epstein said. "The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans.
"As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation," he said. "To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs."