With former Rays manager Joe Maddon pursuing opportunities beyond Tampa Bay, bloggers, journalists, fans and pundits have begun a feeding frenzy for the man who has a well-deserved reputation as one of the game's best strategists—if not the best.
Wherever Maddon ends up, he has the potential to significantly change the landscape of his future team's division. As a savvy decision-marker who led the small-market Rays to four 90-win seasons in the last five years and the AL pennant in 2008, Maddon, with his constant lineup changes and ability to get the most out of his players, might have more of an impact as a manager than any of his peers.
In an effort to find the best (and most likely) landing spot for Maddon, we've aggregated a number of analyses, rumors, opinion pieces, news and anything else you can think of, in hopes of discovering Maddon's destination.
Though former Rays GM Andrew Friedman's move to Los Angeles prompted speculation that Maddon would soon follow, that doesn't appear to be the case. He also won't be heading to Detroit, New York or Philadelphia if the claims from those respective teams are true. Per ESPN's Buster Olney, the Dodgers, Mets and Phillies are all backing their current managers (Don Mattingly, Terry Collins, Ryne Sandberg) and have no desire to go after Maddon.
Additionally, according to 670 The Score's Wayne Randazzo, the Tigers won't pursue Maddon because "they already have a manager in place." Brad Ausmus' job is safe for now, and it appears Tigers fans can cross Maddon off their list.
Perhaps Maddon's most likely destination, Chicago appears to be a logical fit for both parties. As the Trib's David Haugh opined, the Cubs would be foolish not to offer Maddon a contract, and he would fit in the organization "like ivy on an outfield wall."
That's because Maddon's expertise is exactly what the Cubs need: young player development. And according to Rays broadcaster and Chicago native Dave Wills, per Haugh's article, Maddon looks at the Cubs job as "intriguing" and "he really loves National League baseball and the nuances of the NL game."
On Friday, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are viewed as the leaders in the Maddon sweepstakes, and with current manager Rick Renteria signed for the next two seasons, the Cubs could "pay off [the] rest of his deal" and sign Maddon now.
In other words, it's a perfect fit. Now Theo Epstein and Co. just have to make it happen.
With former manager Ron Gardenhire out the door, the Twins have a managerial vacancy that Maddon can fill.
Of course, there are a few barriers. For one, as The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo notes, the Twins likely won't be inclined to use up a huge chunk of their payroll on Maddon's salary, as they already have a small enough budget as it is. The Twins also aren't in a great position to win now, if that's the direction in which Maddon hopes to go.
That said, Minnesota's situation is similar to that of the Cubs: lots of young talent with a promising future ahead. Should he end up with the Twins, Maddon would be able to work his magic on up-and-coming players like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, to name a few.
Current Angels manager Mike Scioscia was somewhat of a mentor for Maddon just before the latter became a manager upon leaving the Angels in 2006. From 2000-2005, Maddon served as Scioscia's bench coach, the culmination of a 31-year career with the Angels. But it appears that a return, while not out of the question, is unlikely at best.
Most importantly, Scioscia has no apparent interest in leaving at this point, and for good reason. His roster is stacked with talent, and while he has been at the helm for 15 years—quite a long time for a manager—he has voiced his desire to return.
"I'm coming back next year, for sure," Scioscia told the LA Times' Mike DiGiovanna.
St. Louis is another intriguing destination, but also one that almost certainly won't happen—at least, for now.
On the surface, it makes sense: Maddon grew up as a Cardinals fan, Matheny doesn't always see eye-to-eye with GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals manager doesn't always make the most heralded in-game decisions. But for now, it's difficult to imagine the Cardinals parting ways with a manager who a) has the backing of his team and b) has appeared in three consecutive NLCS'.
But Sports on Earth's Will Leitch brings up an interesting scenario: If Maddon waits out 2015 and Matheny suffers through more postseason strategic failure, the Cardinals might be more inclined to make a change. But by then, Maddon might have been scooped up by another team—like the Twins or Cubs.