The Angels have hired former Cubs and Rays skipper Joe Maddon as their new manager, the team announced Wednesday morning. This news has seemed like an all-but-certain possibility since Los Angeles fired Brad Ausmus the day after the regular season, clearing the way for a reunion with Maddon — and doing so in virtually the same way the Cubs did when they poached Maddon from Tampa Bay in 2015, firing incumbent manager Rick Renteria after one season just to open up the spot:
OFFICIAL: The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to terms with manager Joe Maddon. pic.twitter.com/PKZHBaljl8— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) October 16, 2019
USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that Maddon’s deal is for three years. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers had previously reported that the contract was expected to be for three years and between $12-15 million.
While the 65-year-old Maddon has drawn some ire in recent years for an inability to relate to younger players and some questionable bullpen moves, he has an extremely strong résumé, especially for someone who didn’t get a full-time managerial opportunity until he was 52 years old. Including stints as the Angels’ interim manager in 1996 and ‘99, Maddon has a lifetime 1,252-1,068 record. The Cubs’ 84-78 record this season — still a rather respectable finish — marked the first time that Maddon’s Cubs had finished with less than 92 wins and without a playoff spot in this five years on the job. Prior to heading to Chicago, he became the winningest manager in Rays history, leading the team to its first winning season (and first and only World Series berth) in 2008. They finished with a total of six straight winning seasons under Maddon from 2008-13, including five with 90 or more victories.
Maddon inherits an Angels roster that is very top-heavy, with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani being two of the league’s most exciting players but not a whole lot of proven talent being in place otherwise. 31-year-old Kole Calhoun and 39-year-old Albert Pujols both had somewhat resurgent seasons in 2019, but clearly neither is a player you want to build around at this stage. Two players who were considered elite not too long ago — 29-year-old Andrelton Simmons and 31-year-old Justin Upton — endured career-worst seasons in 2019, and it’s questionable whether either will rebound. The organization also has some intriguing young players — Jo Adell, the No. 5 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, is likely to make his major-league debut in 2020, and David Fletcher and Matt Thaiss are young big-leaguers who have a chance to take a step forward — but it’s definitely not the same level of young talent that Maddon inherited when he took over the Cubs in 2015.
The biggest concern for the Angels is that while they do have a quartet of intriguing bullpen arms in their 20s — Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, and Ty Buttrey — they were totally devoid of capable starting pitching in 2019. While Ohtani’s anticipated return to pitching in 2020 could help matters, they’re still going to need much more pitching to be a real factor in an AL West that has two of the majors’ most talented teams in the Astros and A’s. That’s not necessarily an issue that Maddon’s addition will help to address, though with a few more solid bullpen arms and a willingness to be creative with pitching roles, he could help turn a mediocre staff into a good one, much like his successor Kevin Cash has done while turning a staff of relative unknowns into one of the league’s best in Tampa.