Bernstein: Cubs Prefer Maddon Not Discuss Future

Joe Maddon expects to remain with the Cubs for a "couple more years."

Dan Bernstein
August 13, 2019 - 2:11 pm
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(670 The Score) The decision to let Joe Maddon manage the final year of his Cubs deal was made with the expectation that both he and the team would avoid talking about his future employment until the conclusion of the season.

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However explicit or tacit that agreement may have been, it has now been rendered moot my Maddon's comments to reporters before a win in Cincinnati on Sunday. Maddon came right out and said that he believes he'll be sticking around, responding to a question about his level of optimism that an extension was in the offing.

"It's very high, yeah," Maddon said. "Very high. Very, very high. I'm operating in that I believe we'll be together for a couple more years at least."

And while we don't know if talks between the sides have advanced or even existed during the long period of total silence, sources told 670 The Score that there was grumbling privately from some in the Cubs' front office, with officials displeased that he chose to share this with reporters after they've stuck to their side of the pledge not to address the subject publicly.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein denied that he was unhappy Monday, calling the idea "baseless" in comments to MLB.com and even praising Maddon for how he handles his regular media commitments. It's clear he wants any of this to quiet down as quickly as possible.

Management expected that Maddon's longtime agent, Alan Nero, could eventually speak on behalf of his client in a way ungoverned by the purview of their arrangement but was taken aback that it was Maddon himself in this way at this time. It's hard, though, to not have seen this coming, because the Cubs created something beyond their control.

Maddon prefers the term "free agent" to "lame duck," and he's in a situation in which the semantics don't matter as much as the divided loyalties of a proud and accomplished veteran all but told to look out for himself. By keeping Maddon's future in abeyance, Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer sacrifice some power in the relationship, ceding it to Maddon's obvious self-interest.

The optimism expressed could be entirely founded and could also be a reminder from Maddon that he's soon to be available, putting his name in a start-of-week news cycle as his team opens a series in a major market on the East Coast. No better time to advertise oneself than when in first place, coming off an exciting win and starting to get some bullpen reinforcements back from injury. In some ways, it had to be inevitable that we weren't going to reach the end of the year without this bubbling up, because the parties involved remain this successful and in focus.

Maddon has no real incentive to not talk about what's to come, unless he believes the unsteadiness could threaten how his message is received in the current clubhouse. So it seems he's already made that calculation, even saying he doesn't think an extension hinges at all on his team's record.

"I think it has nothing to do with wins and losses," Maddon told reporters. "If that's the case, I would have signed the contract at the end of last season, if it came down to wins and losses only. Our success even to this point today -- August whatever it is -- it's been pretty good. To just reduce it to wins and losses, that makes no sense at all."

And it's clearly more complicated than that, with Maddon's outsized role as a franchise frontman and marketing presence contributing to the business side of the operation beyond just the baseball. To extend him or look elsewhere would be a much more considered calculation.

At least one side involved is still committed to working toward that decision without sharing any details or speculation until it's done.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.