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Epstein says Maddon will return to Cubs in '19

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday that Joe Maddon's job status hasn't changed and called a report that there was friction between the two "not accurate."

"Joe's status remains unchanged," Epstein said during an end-of-the-season wrapup with the media at Wrigley Field. "He's the manager of this team. I'm very happy about that."

CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday that Joe Maddon's job status hasn't changed and called a report that there was friction between the two "not accurate."

"Joe's status remains unchanged," Epstein said during an end-of-the-season wrapup with the media at Wrigley Field. "He's the manager of this team. I'm very happy about that."

A report Wednesday by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal said "talk has persisted within the industry" for months now that Maddon and Epstein "are not always on the same page." Rosenthal noted successful clubs have replaced managers -- like the Yankees, who replaced Joe Girardi after making it to Game 7 of last year's ALCS -- in favor of younger candidates.

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"I didn't read the whole thing, but I saw in there that there were some claims that [Maddon] and I had some personal friction -- not true at all," Epstein said on Wednesday. "We have a terrific working relationship. We don't agree all the time about baseball issues and that's the way it should be. I don't want a 'yes man' as the manager and I don't want a 'yes man' relationship the other way, either.

"I think there should be discord and debate and healthy, trusting relationships where you can work together to make the organization better, and that's the way it is," Epstein said.

The Cubs have reached 90 wins for four consecutive seasons under Maddon and won the World Series in 2016, ending a 108-year championship drought.

"I enjoy having Joe around personally and I like having him as the manager of this club, and I really like having the most wins in baseball the last four years," Epstein said. "I don't like going home the first day of October. That's not on Joe. That's not. I look forward to him coming back next year with some unfinished business, as we all have in this organization."

Maddon has one year remaining on his contract and Epstein said there's been no discussion regarding an extension.

"We just finished playing, so I have not turned to that yet," Epstein said. "I certainly haven't talked to Joe about it yet. I think we have to think about that part of it internally first and then talk about it with Joe."

The Cubs players backed Maddon after Tuesday's 2-1, 13-inning loss in the National League Wild Card Game to the Rockies. Asked to describe the Cubs' season in one word, Maddon chose "gritty."

"You're not going to hear me make excuses -- and this is not an excuse -- but we have had a lot of things go awry this year and in spite of that, have still tied for the most wins in the National League in a 162-game season," Maddon said. "That speaks to the quality of the player in the room. Even though maybe the numbers offensively didn't match up, these guys put up 95 wins. That speaks to the heart of the player, that speaks to the attitude of the group.

"We lost some tough games in the postseason, in this postseason right now, or getting to the postseason, but I think 'grit' is a wonderful word that describes this group, and I've also talked about the heart," Maddon said. "A couple years ago, when we won the World Series, I said, 'Don't forget the heartbeat.' I think the heartbeat within this group is very prominent and as a manager, that's probably the thing I'm most proud of."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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